MAD Perspectives Blog

4 Ways Data Matters for Media and Entertainment

Peggy Dau - Monday, April 13, 2015


Every industry has it's perspective on data. Yet, perhaps no industry will change as dramatically, as the media & entertainment industry, through it's use of data. This is an industry that has long been driven by it's "gut". Watch almost any Mad Men episode and see how Don Draper pulls a pitch out of nowhere to win the client. The "golden gut" has long been the driver for green-lighting projects in Hollywood (and elsewhere). However, the shift to data driven program development may be attributed to Bonnie Hammer at USA Networks. She systematically changed the way original programming was approved and pursued. However, their access to viewer data was limited - until they initiated a comprehensive multi-channel fan engagement strategy. Their adoption of second screen tactics to engage with viewers has given them keen insight into fan sentiment. 

More recently, the champion of data driven content is Netflix who have access to volumes of subscriber data that they aggregate, correlate and analyze to identify and validate project development opportunities.  But is the use of data by the media and entertainment sector limited to that data related to their audience? This may be the most talked about use of data, but there are others. Data is critically important throughout the the process of creating, managing, distributing and consuming content - especially in this age of digital workflows.  

Where is the data? It is everywhere. It is around the creative process, the business process and the actual consumption. Every aspect of data is directly or indirectly related to monetization.

1. Content Creation - This is where the "magic happens". Editorial teams collaborate to layer files, add graphics and special effects, incorporate music to create a finished product. They tag assets and create metadata to describe the asset. The metadata includes, but is not limited to, title, artist, composer, genre, encoding format, frame size, frame rate, bit rate and DRM properties. This data facilitates editing team discovery of assets to assemble new content or to repurpose existing content. Metadata stays with the asset throughout the media workflow and when it is stored or archived. Without metadata, the ability to create content and determine which content can be monetized becomes very difficult.

2. Business Management - Alongside the creative workflow, are the workflows to manage resources, scheduling, transmission, contracts, rights management and royalties. The data in these systems help to view, manage and control production costs. When content is available for distribution, platforms deliver solutions and data relevant to manage, track and monetize assets and related royalties payments, across multiple distribution channels. The complexity of the business processes, adjacent to the creative process, cannot be ignored. The data related to these processes is critical to the overall success in 

3. Distribution - The mandate to deliver content to consumers across a myriad of devices requires those service providers who own the networks to guarantee a defined level of performance. They must serve the needs of content owners as well those of their consumers. They must monitor and manage the quality of their networks. And, these measurements are data. They measure bandwidth, network performance, streaming experience, track video playback quality, audience consumption patterns and more. Data is captured, analyzed and shared with content owners.

3. Consumption -  This is the focus of the industry - creating and distributing content that will attract an audience. Whether it is a feature film or a sitcom, understanding the audience is key. They buy tickets and subscriptions. They are the potential buyers of products advertised by brands. The attention and focus on measuring audience is ever growing. Whether it is Nielsen, ComScore, Twitter, or other audience measurement solutions, the goal is to identify the volume, demographics and sentiment of a program's fans. This data ultimately drives advertising revenue which is also changing with the rise of data driven programmatic advertising. The increased adoption of OTT channels provides content owners with increasing sources of data about their consumers. OTT enables a direct relationship with consumers. Like Netflix, networks can benefit from a direct understanding of audience demographics and behaviors to understand which content, actors or genres appeal to their OTT audience. It can influence schedule, availability

Digital media has changed every aspect of the media industry and in the process increased the number of data sources. Data is persistent, voluminous and valuable at every stage of the media value chain. There are many more ways that data matters throughout the creative, business and distribution processes. Yet, this industry still relies heavily upon its gut. Perhaps this is due to the creativity that is a necessity. It will be interesting to see the balance of data and creativity. Data can validate investments. Data can reinforce strategies, but this industry more than others is dependent on creativity. Can all this data inspire creativity? 

What's your perspective?



Building Business Relationships a la Digital Media

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Business is about building relationships.  In the past these relationships were developed in buildings with offices, desks and phones.  They were fostered over lunches, dinners, holiday parties and golf outings.  We only have to watch "MAD MEN" to be reminded of that while these relationships seemed solid on the surface, they often crumbled under the pressures of other business needs.

Bottom line, business relationships are about one party fulfilling the needs and desires of the other.  The challenge is understanding those needs and desires.  In today's social business world, relationships can be initiated via various social networks.  However, the foundation for a relationship still evolves from a face to face meeting.  However, it is often maintained through the use of many digital media solutions.  These solutions include desktop video conferencing, webinars, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, newsletters and more.

I met with a client last week.  They are a small, privately held software company.  Their customers are global, yet their sales force is centralized.  You may be scratching your head wondering why.  I know I did.  However, they have found their salesforce to be more effective if they can leverage the knowledge gained from each other through discussions about their potential customers.  They fulfill their customer's desire for face to face meetings via desktop video conferencing.  They provide software demos using online tools such as GotoMeeting.  They provide product updates via email newsletters and weekly blogs.  They have leveraged the many solutions available to them to maintain their customer relationships in an efficient, cost effective manner that fulfills their customers needs.

How do we understand those needs?  We listen!  Thanks to constantly evolving social media platforms, companies have a unique opportunity to hear more than ever before.  In fact, this has become a daunting proposition for many companies.  Customers are very candid in the social stratosphere - they share the good, the great, the bad and the ugly.  However, it is critical for companies to gain social intelligence about their customers needs, goals and concerns.  They will gain competitive insight and candid feedback that can influence business process, product roadmap, market awareness and help build stronger business relationships.

By incorporating the many digital media tools available today, businesses can communicate in the manner best suited to their many audiences (c-level, marketing, purchasing, engineering, etc.).  In combining traditional business interactions with digital communication channels and social interactivity, companies will build a new kind of relationship with their customers.

What's your perspective?



Digital Asset Management as a Tool for Social Media Brand Consistency

Peggy Dau - Monday, July 12, 2010

One of the biggest challenges facing brands as social media platforms continue to evolve is that of brand consistency.  In the “old” world, marketers defined messaging and images they felt were most representative of their brand.   On the social internet, the community defines the message and may begin to define the images.  How do Digital Asset Management (DAM) systems fit into this?  They are the central repository for a company’s digital media assets.

As companies intentionally reach out to their communities for input, this input will come in many formats. Brands may invite consumers to create new tag lines.   It may come as pictures of users with the product.  It may come in the form of home video extolling product benefits.  Consumer brands are actively seeking user generated content, partly to attract attention to the brand, partly to gain low/no cost re-usable content and partly to test the waters. 

Platforms such as YouTube, Flickr and Vimeo are growing outlets for company created content but also for brand requested user generated content.  This user generated content may not comply with corporate defined brand image.  How do brands address this?  Or, by ‘crowd sourcing” content, do brands give up control of brand identity?  The goal for many marketing teams is to create content that can be repurposed across multiple distribution channels and create tighter bonds with their customers.  Regardless of their intent, how do companies manage and repurpose user generated assets? 

DAM systems can help companies manage these assets.   Any Digital Asset Management solution provides the ability to define the ontology and taxonomy of digital assets.  It is possible to create additional categories which identify the assets as user generated, associated with a specific campaign or of certain image quality.  DAM systems may also begin to incorporate social concepts such as the tag cloud, which shows the tags associated with specific assets.  They could also incorporate features such as reviews & comments, helping marketing departments identify the most popular or useful content.

A digital asset management system cannot control a company’s brand, but it can help that company manage the digital media assets related to the brand.  The system provides the company with a tool to review, assess, edit and manage assets with the intent to determine the asset’s alignment with brand image.  It then enables companies to extend their brand across multiple channels (i.e., mobile, internet, print, TV, etc.) through re-use and re-purpose of the selected asset(s).  Bottom line, digital asset management systems will have to integrate and manage professionally produced assets as well as those imported from social platforms.

What's your perspective?

For additional posts on Digital Asset Management check out We Speak Digital Media, where I am a guest blogger.



The Social DAM

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, July 06, 2010

In this world of all things social, there is a lot of focus on making existing platforms social.  As an example, there have been many discussions about social CRM.  While salesforce.com is considered to be social, traditional systems (i.e., Oracle) are not.  A simple definition of social CRM is “having a discussion when, where and how the customer wants it.”  Coming from a world of digital media, should we be talking about Social Digital Asset Management (DAM) systems? Should users be able to access or provide digital assets when, where and how they want?   Is this an oxymoron or redundant?  Let’s review what functions a DAM system performs.

DAM systems evolved to address the challenges facing organizations who manage a variety of digital assets.  In an enterprise business, these assets would traditionally be managed by the marketing department.  They would include corporate logos & images.  If anyone outside of the marketing department needed these images, for any reason, they needed to go through the marketing department to gain access to these assets.  This could be a slow process with many bottlenecks.

Digital Asset Management systems evolved to provide a central repository for digital assets.  As these assets have evolved beyond static images into rich media assets incorporating audio and video, DAM systems became more elegant in how they addressed issues of tagging, metadata, taxonomy, ontology and overall semantics.  DAM systems, by necessity, must be easily integrated with other systems such as editing, transcoding, storage, digital rights and distribution.

Today, DAM systems are accessible by users across the enterprise, whenever they want.  Marketing may own the responsibility for establishing a corporate wide policy for tagging, metadata, etc., but groups such as sales, engineering, product management have access to the company’s digital media assets.  There is still separation between producers and consumers.  Does providing access make the system social?  Or does it become social when those same groups can become producers and contribute their own content and assets? 

Perhaps a DAM system with the ability to annotate, rank and comment on these assets makes it social within the enterprise.  Or, perhaps it’s the option for online, interactive communication that facilitates effective collaboration.  System features now enable users to rank assets or for managers to understand how many times an asset is viewed partly or in full. DAM systems providethe intelligence and elements of social platforms.  DAM systems continue to evolve and incorporate features that feel social.  Perhaps they are already social as these capabilities are core components of many social sites and platforms.

The ability for a DAM system to accept and manage user generated content (UGC) is increasingly important.  If companies recognize the social web as a relevant content distribution outlet, they may also need to consider it as a source of content input.  The DAM system can become more social by enabling content upload and the assignment of relevant tags, metadata by establishing and automating a standard taxonomy and ontology.  Thus the DAM enables users to access all digital media assets for the company, when, where and how they like.

Are you accessing your companies DAM system?  Does it feel social to you?  If so, why?  If not, what would make it more social?

What's your perspective?



Printing Heads to the Clouds

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, June 09, 2010

HP announced its ePrint Center at Internet Week New York on Monday.  Due to some laptop problems, I've been delayed in sharing my thoughts.  As a former HP employee who left on good terms, I'm still very interested to see what new technologies HP pursues.  While I never worked in the printer group, I feel affinity toward the LaserJet as it was announced the same year I joined HP.  The printer business has been a mainstay for HP ever since. 

 This weeks announcement takes printing to the next level. What does Hp ePrint Center do?  It federates your print capabilities by associating an unique email address with every new ePrint enabled printer.  This allows you to store files in the "cloud" and print to the designated web-enabled ePrinters.  Why is this cool?  It removes the need for print drivers on your device - bit it a laptop, PC, handheld, phone, iPad, etc.  The documents are rendered in the cloud with the relevant print drivers associated seamlessly.  We've all been down the road of downloading or updating print drivers when we upgrade to new devices or printers.  this removes that challenge.

The other interesting aspect of ePrint Center is a service called Scheduled Delivery.  Now companies can create widgets that users can elect to download to their printers.  Based on the personalization that the individual assigns to that widget, they can schedule content to print at pre-defined dates & times or on-demand.  For the purpose of this announcement, HP focused on consumer needs with partners like Nickelodeon and Live Nation sharing the ability to print kids coloring books or concert information without going online via your PC.  it allows simple, fast access to printed content.  As much as we would like to paperless, we simply are not there - yet.

HP will announce the business benefits later this year, but I was imagining how this can benefit B2B companies.  Assuming that web-enabled printers become the norm (and is there is a reason that they wouldn't) this truly enables Print-on-the-Go.  You can print brochures, quotes, proposals, product roadmaps, price lists, manuals to the desired printer from any device.  It truly is content anywhere, anytime.  Imagine you left your sales presentation in the taxi (god forbid!), you can use your smartphone to access the presentation in the cloud and have it print at your local print shop (i.e., Fedex Kinkos, Staples) or at your customer.  This also enables you to create content on the fly and print it easily, without concern for the right print drivers, wherever your are.

Similar to Apples App Store, HP has the App Studio for partners to create printer apps.  Consumer centric businesses are already creating widgets to be downloaded to the new ePrinters, B2B companies could do the same.  Imagine creating customer support or FAQ widgets.  I'm sure there are many more creative ideas out there!

This announcement does take printing to the next logical step and turns what have been primarily output devices into smart devices that can bring incremental value to consumers and businesses.  As with all things "cloud", the usual concerns for security and control still exist.  Yes, this will likely continue to drive ink sales.  And, yes, it gives us all a reason to buy new printers.  But, it addresses long existing challenges with printer drivers, it addresses the conundrum of wanting to be mobile but still need hard copy docs, and it solves that pesky inability to connect an iPad to a printer.

Share your thoughts on this topic.  I'm interested to understand what you think about web-enabled printing.  Will the ability to download widgets make the printer social?

What's your perspective?



What was Hot or Not at NAB 2010?

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, April 21, 2010




I went to the NAB show in Las Vegas last week.  My reasons were twofold.  Reason #1 was to see what's new and intriguing in the technology addressing the broadcast and studio markets.  It is always exciting to see what's going on in this industry and as you can imagine, the buzz word was 3D!  In addition, there is a lot of attention being paid to multi-screen content consumption and how to enhance the online viewer experience.  As often happens, sports is the target market for a lot of the enhancements that will soon be available for online video.  ESPN has been a leader in how they incorporate technology into the viewing experience and many small vendors are uniquely focused on making the online experience as interesting and compelling as the living room experience.  Pay attention as local sports comes online.  By local, I mean the town little league teams or soccer/football teams.  It's exciting and accessible!

Why is this relevant for MAD Perspectives?  Well, what happens in the M&E space usually is adapted, in some way, by other industries.  while the demands from M&E are quite high, companies in healthcare, manufacturing, green tech, oil & gas and other industries are using video more frequently in their messaging and communication strategies.  In addition, video or imaging is increasingly a core part of their information gathering or business process.  Understanding where video trends are heading, can help these industries provide enriched services.  Imagine the benefits of 3D medical imagery!

What are some of the key things I learned?

-enabling multi-platform content consumption is HUGE (manage, encode, transude, protect, distribute, display)

- encoding bitrates have made big improvements (meaning, less bandwidth required for delivery of MPEG2, SD and HD content)

- telcos are FINALLY enabling CDN services (why let Akamai have all the fun?)

- 3D is super hot (and you shouldn't try to make a project if it wasn't shot that away originally, quality does matter)

- camera prices are decreasing, meaning UGC (user generated content) quality will improve


Reason #2 for heading out to Vegas was to check in with the myriad of vendors with whom I have relationships based on my past life at Hewlett-Packard.  I was interested to see what new products they had to offer but also to understand why they don't leverage digital media more effectively in the way they tell their story online.  These are vendors who live in the digital media market.  Their solutions focus on every nuance of the moving image, yet only a few of them tweet, blog or even use video on their websites.  These companies have interesting and compelling stories about how they have solved problems of encoding, content management, broadcast automation, storage, asset management, content distribution and more.  They understand the power of video.  They understand the importance of personal relationships.  Yet, they haven't "crossed the chasm" to utilize various digital media solutions available to them to make their stories come alive.

I think the challenge for many of these companies is the understanding of how to leverage social media, in particular, in a B2B market.  We all understand social media as a person to person medium and have even seen the benefits in B2C markets.  Yet, B2B lags behind.  This is primarily due to:

- lack of time and resource - many companies have thinned their marketing staffs and are concerned about the time it may take to tweet or blog

- risk management - companies fear employees misrepresenting the company, sharing confidential information, or exposing compone networks to viruses

- traditional marketing mindset - these companies are still in a push marketing mode where they control the message

I believe we will see a shift in B2B adoption of digital media to tell their story as we move through the next couple years.  The economy is slowly turning, as evidenced by the increased attendance at NAB this year vs. 2009.  I think we are also seeing other indicators (i.e., strong earnings reports, flat unemployment, upward movement in the stock market).

Yes, it takes time to define a digital media strategy.  However, your customers are spending more time online researching, learning and comparing solutions.  You need to be memorable and share your story in a meaningful way.  You need to reach out to your customers via the channels that they use (and the "millennials" are visual and social). 

What's your perspective?



What is Digital Media? You use it Every Day!

Peggy Dau - Thursday, March 25, 2010

MAD Perspectives' charter is to help companies define and plan their digital media strategy.  But, I often am greeted with quizzical looks.  These looks are that individual's request for further definition about my business.  Their primary question is, what is digital media?!  Interestingly, this is a term that has been around for quite some time, but with new buzz words emerging every day, it is no wonder that this term has been lost in the shuffle.  Let me take a few minutes to share my opinion on what digital media is and how it can help you and your business (btw, you use digital media every day!).

Digital Media is an amalgamation of tools that allow us to communicate, electronically, using text, images, audio and video.  These tools include software, hardware and hosted platforms to create, edit, store, manage, deliver, protect and distribute digital content.  These tools allow individuals and companies to connect, collaborate and communicate for fun or for business.  Let's explore a bit more.

The term digital media is the result of the marriage of technology and creative arts.  It is the digitization of compelling content (i.e., pictures, graphics, audio or video) for distribution across a network.   It is assumed that these are not analog radio or tv networks, but IP (or some evolution there of) networks.  As the internet became commonplace and networks became more sophisticated, businesses and consumers alike, eagerly consumed online content.  We looked forward to the old AOL message "You've Got Mail".  We took email a step further and started attaching files, pictures and video.  Digital media made the world seem a little bit smaller.

Websites evolved from static, brochure-like pages of information to interactive destinations that enabled consumers to post opinions, share recommendations and download information.  Depending on the site, we could watch video.  I remember watching clips from the 2003 World Series between my NY Yankees and the Florida Marlins (yeah, the Yankees lost, sigh!) on a PC while I was traveling in Europe.  Performance was sketchy at best, but it was awesome to be able to see at least a little bit of the game.

Technology has advanced.  Forget the arguments over formats, codecs, bitrates, bandwidth, editing suites, platforms, etc. They can all be sorted out.  Now, we take online video for granted.  In some cases we still have high expectations for video quality, but YouTube has taught us that quality may not always be the primary concern.  Many business websites incorporate video, flash or animation to augment their story.  User-generated content is de-rigueur for consumer sites and broadcast television.  Our perspectives, our thoughts and our images are all part of the story, regardless of whether it is entertainment, news, B2B or consumer oriented.  We do this via online video, social media, web conferencing, video conferencing or interactive marketing.  This is digital media.

Digital Media is our ability to share information, images, pictures, presentations, videos, animations about our companies, our products, ourselves while we are online, regardless of network or device.  What's your strategy for using digital media to tell your story?

What's your perspective?




Managing through the Digital Transition

Peggy Dau - Thursday, March 18, 2010

I was at the Digital Hollywood/Business Week 2010 Media Summit, in NYC, last week.  I was inspired by the thoughtful comments from keynote speakers and panelists.  The mainstays of the NY media industry (advertising, publishing and broadcast) are all in the midst of great upheaval as the internet, online video and social media pose challenges to their traditional business models.  I've become a huge fan of the NY Times for reasons far beyond having been a dedicated reader since I was a child.  While advertising and broadcast are faced with ongoing monetization challenges, they already leveraged the concept of a "network".  However, the newspaper biz is a truly analog business.  We consumer content by buying a physical product, get ink stains on our hands and recycle the product after consumption.

The demise of the newspaper business has been debated for several years and many papers have had to close their doors in the last few years.  There is no argument that the model must change and in full recognition of this, The New York Times dedicates a large portion of its R&D budget (YES, they have a R&D group!!) to digital.  The New York Times is focused on leveraging existing and emerging digital channels to reach their customers (and allow their customers to reach them).  The lessons they are learning as they evolve are meaningful for the publishing industry brethren but also for non-media industry businesses challenged by the plethora of digital media options available to them.

I would like to share a few of my takeaways for their keynote:

- Stay true to your customers.  Remember what you have promised be it innovation, quality, integrity, entertainment, reliability, humor, etc.
- Your content should support your promise.
- New Media is an opportunity, invest in it.  Define a 3-5 year plan.  Yes, it will change as new platforms, technology and cultural standards shift.
- Acknowledge what you don't know - it's OK!
- Alternative business models will continue to emerge but profit is still the bottom line
- Keep an open mind:  test, learn, adapt

There are pros and cons to sticking with what's tried and true versus jumping on the latest technology bandwagon.  Take the time (but don't get stuck in analysis paralysis) to figure out how these technologies can benefit your business.  Thanks New York Times Company for being a role model!

What's your perspective?




Sales and Social Networking

Peggy Dau - Monday, March 08, 2010

The art of selling has evolved over the years, but the basic premise is unchanged.  A company has a product or service that it sells to its customers.  The product is sold directly or via a channel such as a retailer, reseller or the internet.  The goal for both the direct or indirect channel is to get to the key decision makers or influencers for the entity buying the product.  Once they have identified this decision maker, they want to provide them with the facts about their product that differentiate it from its competitors, fulfill the needs of the customer, and address extemporaneous goals. How has social networking helped or hindered the sales process?

The past 10 years have seen the internet accepted as both a sales channel and an information portal.  For the sake of this discussion, we are not going to focus on sales via the internet.  We will focus on the traditional sales model of a sales person calling upon an established set of accounts.  Many sales people that I have spoken with are aware of social media, but mostly from the consumer perspective.  Their initial thought is that social media is Twitter and that all it is a random set of meaningless thoughts. They may be on LinkedIn, but they are uncertain as to its benefits other than as a "virtual Rolodex".   Given that sites like Twitter,Facebook or YouTube did evolve from a individuals point of view rather than a business perspective, it is understandable that sales personnel may have some concerns.

In addition to some healthy scepticism, there is also a cultural issue.  Many successful sales people are successful because they have built strong relationships with their customers.  They have wined and dined, played golf or attended sporting events.  They have built business based social relationships. they feel that social media is not personal due to the lack of face to face interaction.  However, the new breed of sales will include those very individuals around whom these social platforms were built.  These millenials are familiar with the tools and understand the potential.  As many sales people have adapted to CRM (customer relationship management) software and updated order processing and order management systems  they will now figure out how, where and why to use social media.

Shaking hands by mr.curtispope.

Here are a few thoughts:

1.  Listen to what your existing and potential customers are saying online.

It is extremely likely that your clients are online.  They are exploring websites, industry forums, blogs, customer support pages and social networking sites to learn more about the vendors they work with.  As a sales person, you can gain insight into their pet peeves, challenges and concerns by "listening" to what they are saying online.  Using tools such as Google Alerts, you can define keywords around topics such as your company and its products plus the names of your current or prospective clients.  You will be able to see, at least at a high level, what content your client is placing online as it relates to your company.

In addition you can perform searches is Twitter and Facebook, again using keywords, to see what they are talking about.  If you want to get more sophisticated, there are subscription based tools from Radian6, TelligentVisible Technologies and others.  Once you have these tools set up, the time investment to scan the news becomes a habit rather than a huge time commitment.  Remember, 20 years ago email was not present in the corporate sector and now our email in boxes are packed while voicemail has reduced.

BTW, you can also listen for information about your competitors!

2. Find key decision makers and influencers

Many of us are familiar with a rolodex, business contact, or CRM systems.  We collect business cards from our client, at networking events or trade shows.  We follow up on those with whom we had compelling conversations and we hold onto the rest of these cards.  The goal is to have a suite of contacts with whom we can pursue business. 

In addition, sales people often have primary contacts within a business that are in purchasing, IT or marketing, but they may not be the key decision makers.  they may not even be influencers.    Most sales people will leverage their primary contacts to increase their visibility within the account, with the goal to gain access to these decision makers.  Of course, if you can get inside the head of these decision makers you can shorten the sales cycle and win more business.  Social networks can help with this process.  Using LinkedIn as an example and remembering the theory of six degrees of separation, your LinkedIn contacts may be connected to that key decision maker you desire to meet.  An introduction from a business colleague who can speak to your experience and reputation, from a trusted contact, can go a long way to easing that first conversation.  In fact, LinkedIn can give you a little insight into their background and what makes them tick.

3. Educate your customers

Part of the sales process always includes providing updated information about your company and its products.  With increasing focus on managing travel expenses, sales people can become frustrated by not being able to be in front of their customers as often as they like.  An alternative mechanism to sharing information with clients is to use podcast and webcasts to provide information.  They enable the company to share information to broad audience in a cost effective manner, while enabling potential customers to interact and ask questions during the presentation.  In addition, in many cases, the information is available for a limited period in an on-demand manner, allowing customers to access the information as their schedules permit.

If this solution is deemed too impersonal, then think about the incredible advances in video conferencing.  At the low end their are simple, free (yet not secure) tools such as Skype.  On the high end their are video conference environments such as Cisco Telepresence or HP Halo that visually connect participants in virtual conference rooms using advance camera, lighting and networking technologies.

In addition, invite your customers to join LinkedIn groups, company blogs, RSS feeds, etc.,  that may be sponsored by your company.  The goal - make it easy for your customers to get the information they need!

4. Customer Service

It is often the case that once the product or service is sold, that the sales person moves onto the next opportunity.  This is understandable.  However, in today's world where social networking is so prevalent, it is important to keep your customer's happy.  An unhappy customer will tell 10 colleagues about a bad experience, while only telling 3 colleagues about a positive experience.  Sales people need to stay in touch with customer service.  If your company has a customer service forum, check in to see if your customers are participating and at what level.  Are they satisfied?  Are they facing a challenge? 

Happy customers are loyal customers and will recommend you to others.  Customer retention has become an increasing focus for many companies as their products and services become commoditized.  Your customers want to feel as if they have a voice.  Enabling them to participate in customer support forums, rewarding them for solution suggestions, listening and responding to their questions is all part of the extended sales process.

It's a new world for sales people.  They are faced with a broader view of their customer, but that's a two way street.  Their customers have access to far more information about vendors than ever before.  Social networking and digital media solutions can augment the sales process and facilitate access, education and support.  Make these tools are part of your daily habit!

I want to thank Chris Brogan and Joseph Jaffe for their insights on these topics.  Information in their blogs helped me solidify my thoughts.

What's your perspective?



Olympic Inspiration

Peggy Dau - Monday, March 01, 2010

Well, the Games of the 21st Winter Olympics are closed.  I'm sad.  It was a great two weeks of athletics, competition and digital media.  Hmmm...  You're wondering about that last bit.  I truly love the Winter Olympics.  I love the beautiful locations, the fabulously fit athletes (although I may have seen the beginnings of a beer belly on a bobsledder), and the edge of your seat competition.  This year, more so than any previous Olympics, we were able to experience the Olympics on TV, Internet and social networks. NBC is the official U.S.  broadcast network.  Not only did they provide coverage on TV, but we could also follow events, blogs, and twitter feeds at www.nbcolympics.com.  We could become fans via Facebook.  They invited us to participate in the games, virtually.

In addition, we could find a perhaps more global view from the International Olympic Committee on their site, www.olympic.com; on Facebook and Twitter.  And, of course, we could interact with our favorite athletes as they tweeted and posted comments.  For those of us who could not (or did not want) to go to Vancouver, we were able to feel a little bit closer thanks to online videos and the instant and honest comments made by attendees and athletes.  We could commiserate in their disappointments or celebrate in their achievements.  We could share our own thoughts with friends and fans as our favorites pursued their dreams.

I've always felt the Olympic games were a phenomenal opportunity for international sport, but always felt a bit removed (except in 1988 when I was lucky enough to go to the Calgary winter games - what a great experience!).  Perhaps this is how customers have felt about the companies from whom they purchase products.  They can admire the company and its products, but never feel like they have a true connection.  They can speak to their sales representative and ask questions about features, functionality, benefits, manufacturing, etc, but they don't have any influence.  Digital media through the use of online video and interactive webinars, social networks to enhance communication and connectivity or customer support forums to prioritize and address key issues, allow companies and customers to have a voice.  Companies become more approachable and customers have an increasing number of communication avenues.

Let's be inspired by the Olympians and their fabulous experiences and by the Olympics themselves as they continue to become more interactive.  My congatulations and thanks to EVERY athlete who participated in Vancouver, each of you provided 2 weeks of inspiration!

What's your perspective?