The 3 biggest spoilers of your marketing success are in your own company.

About a year ago, I reflected on thequalities of the new CMO, and why CEOs should be worried not finding them. Let’s imagine you are one of those superhero multidisciplinary CMOs, recently hired by a great consumer product company (you can extend the example to almost any category). You have great ideas, you have the knowledge, you have the team, then it’s time to execute.

I’m pretty sure you will be undermined by at least two of these three:


The Legal department. You start some project, it involves digital, mobile, point of sales… it’s perfect, it must increase the numbers, definitely. And then, in the last minute, when you’re ready to launch it, someone asks the ugliest question can be asked in such moment: “Has Legal seen this?”. Oops. You go back to the legal department, tell them what’s the project about (unable to hide your excitement about it). You lost two precious weeks in the process and they come back with quite a lot of things. Most of them, dismantling the so long optimized consumer experience. Now consumers need to accept an endless terms and conditions before even continue, where they accept basically everything to be accepted “just in case”. Don’t get me wrong, legals are necessary, not only to comply with the law, also to be protected from your own consumers, not all of them are friendly and love your brand. Legal is one of the most powerful department in the companies, since they can completely stop and throw your work, your budget and your passion in the trash. How to deal with them? well, first of all the obvious one, involving them in the project from the very beginning. But also requiring them to work as what they are, a support area: “Don’t tell me what I can’t do, tell me how can I do what I want and let’s discuss the trade offs”. Legal needs to work in a consultant mode, and that requires time and a bit of knowledge. But I’m sure your project is worth it.

The IT department. Nowadays, your marketing projects are likely using technology at some point, could be a web, could be a database for CRM, could be a mobile app or an NFC loyalty card or any combination of them. In fact, soon . Some companies don’t have any CIO, since they consider IT as a support area, keeping the laptops and the office networks in shape. That is a big mistake, since companies servicing the marketing area (typically agencies) are neither technology savvy. But since you are a superhero CMO you know what to do. The problem is you need servers, you need security policies, and a lot of things that, well, are not your business. Again, the IT department should help you reach your objectives, not putting obstacles up. When it comes to IT everything can be done, it’s just a question of time and money. If somebody says your project can’t be done, fire him. He or she should tell you what is the cost and times, and then you will decide if you want to spend that money. Well, you and your boss…

The CEO. Oh yes, you have a boss. And probably without the knowledge, nor the time, to understand the fancy things you are doing in Marketing. But you need the budget to do these fancy things, so you need to knock on his/her door at some point in the year. Not only you need to have your elevator pitch ready, but having your boss asking for numbers is actually good for you. Whatever new project you are starting, be sure it has a solid business case behind. Understand all the costs (that you will know because you’re asking for money), the consequences for every stakeholder (consumers, customers, employees), and the return. You need to know how you are going to measure success and what will be the return of that success. Return will not always be money (could be awareness if you are launching a product), but should lately transform into it (if you don’t sell more after an awareness campaign, something is definitely wrong). This measure oriented philosophy, should reach your team, but also your providers. Making your agency win a Cannes Lion doesn’t make you sell more. The scary question you have to always ask is “how much this good idea will contribute to my business?”. If you support your projects with a business case, built with the help of your team and your agencies (Media, Creative, PR), your boss will likely say yes, and you finally will help your company to grow. Wasn’t it your dream after all?

Do you think other internal areas can undermine you marketing activities? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.


Omnichannel Retargeting, the scary future is near.

If you’re worried about your privacy, don’t read this post. Even if you’re not familiar with the wordretargeting, you have suffered it for sure. Let’s say you are looking for a nice hotel to spend your Christmas in Bahamas. You visit your favorite online travel agency and start narrowing your choice set, based on others’ opinions, availability and price. You finally see one you like, you check the pictures, room types and so on. You stop it there, maybe you bookmark the page, and you close your browser since probably you want to share it with your relative at home. A couple of hours later you check another page, maybe an online newspaper. Suddenly, every ad you see is related with Bahamas and the hotels you have been looking at. You wonder how does the newspaper website know you’re going to Bahamas on vacation.

What you probably didn’t know is at somewhere, both in the Newspaper and the Travel agency websites, you accepted a cookie policy that allow them to share information through third parties. This cookie is the bit of information stored in your computer that is linking your profile between a bunch of websites out there under the same advertising network. And as of today, this is only available at websites (maybe some apps too).

The good thing about apps is they not only can keep track of what you do in the app (the same you could get from a website), but they know a lot more of things that can be used for retargeting.

For instance, imagine you stop by your favorite clothes shop. You use their app to scan the NFC tag on a pair of jeans and share it with your friends. You get home, open your Facebook and see an offer to buy those jeans online.

But you don’t even have to do anything. You are looking for a new car, you get to the nearest Volkswagen dealer, there is an iBeacon in each car that knows you have been sitting in the New Beetle. You leave… and that evening, when you’re visiting your favorite online car blog, it’s crowded with New Beetle banners offering a test drive.

¿What about TV? Imagine you’re watching your favorite TV show. You have a second screen App that knows what are you watching… including the commercials, where there is a great ad about tourism in Japan. Next time you visit one of your freemium apps, they will show you banners about Japan… And when the TV will not be broadcasted anymore, but on demand, ads will be pushed in the same way banners are. More personalization, more retrargeting.

So all this is very promising, but also very scary. Some consequences of this near future:

  1. Lawyers will have to work harder, in order to structure term conditions and privacy options, basically to allow companies to do what they want with your data. And technology has to follow, privacy settings control should include multi device, multi position, multi brand options.
  2. Media agencies will have to work harder, in order to structure a real strategy based on consumer profiles. Is not anymore about where the target is and pushing some GRPs or banners to mass media, is about understanding the consumer journey and defining rules that cover different behaviors. Needless to say that CMOs and their teams need also to understand this new paradigm.
  3. Communication opportunities will arise between brands sharing the consumer’s basket. Cross selling will not happen in the supermarket, it will happen anywhere. These agreements will allow to share data, with more legal implications.

How all this will change the relationship between consumers and brands? I’d love to hear your opinions on this topic.

In store shopper activation. Bye bye QR Codes, welcome NFC!

I recently started a series of posts called “Beware of Hype” trying to reflect about what happened with some technology or marketing hypes and why they finally didn’t work as expected. I can confess it now: I planned my next Beware of Hype post to be about NFC. This was previous to the iPhone 6 launch rumors, since Apple was constantly refusing to add it to their devices. I was (very) wrong, and obviously there was a reason for it. Now, NFC is the de facto standard for mobile payments.

Although payments will receive the most significant boost thanks to Apple endorsement, NFC can do much more than that. The good thing for Apple”being late” is that there are endless applications to this short range communications technology, and very low cost NFC tags.

NFC is based on RFID, that was supposed to be the future for logistics and supply chain management, but also, for Marketing. In 2004 (yes, that’s 10 years ago, the iPhone wasn’t even launched), Gillete massively deployed RFID tags in their products, not only for out store usage, but also for in store traceability in partnership with Walmart. That has been criticized as the greatest privacy breach ever, and the project was put aside. Today we’re giving our position to many of the apps in our smartphone both GPS for outdoors and iBeacon for indoor without being much problem, I guess privacy concept has a little bit changed since then. The RFID/NFC technology has evolved so much, that tags can be obtained for very few cents the piece.

In fact, some companies such as Samsung with the Tectiles, already provide programmable NFC stickers, as the simplest way to make the phone do things, like set up the alarm, launch an application or join a wifi network, but more interestingly perform actions such as like a facebook page, check in with foursquare or open a web page, which has a huge potential for in store activation and interaction. But wait, there is already something that does more or less that… QR codes.

QR codes are massively used in Marketing as a shortcut between the real world and the digital world through your smartphone. You can read some serious dos and don’ts with QRs codes here. The truth is, between you and me, reading a QR code is not the easiest thing in the world for everybody. My 65 years old mom, owning an Android 4.4.4 smartphone, doesn’t know how to. She doesn’t know she has to download an application for reading the codes, she doesn’t know the products she’s buying in the supermarket are plenty of these codes because nobody told her. The adoption of the QR technology is being quite organic, kids know what they are, some parents and most of grand parents don’t. But tapping something with the phone is sooo much easier… you don’t need an app, just keep the NFC activated and your ready to receive contextual information about a product you want to discover, it’s perfect for smart shopping.

Yes, I know QR codes are much cheaper to print, maybe NFC tags are not for every product, but at their current cost, they are very affordable and give plenty of communication opportunities. Of course iBeacons are there for push communications, but you need an app installed in the phone. They complement themselves, NFC will be used for pull communications when the consumer wants to get something from the product, proactively, and easily.

Imagine clothes with the tag that take you to the online store, or just like the product in Facebook so your friends can see it online. What about cosmetics? having a tag with a detailed product description, skin compatibility tests, cross recommendations… I can’t even foresee all the possible applications, but it seems Apple does, as they’re filing some patents regarding these exciting possibilities. Definitely, after all, NFC will not be a hype, and I will have to find another one for my next post.

Pictures from and

Originally published here

It’s not (only) about the Hardware. Why Apple waited so long for NFC.

Yesterday Apple announced their new, long awaited, expected and desired, device: the Apple Watch (replacing the “i” by an apple, might be a new naming line?) with the new , in both sizes. Really nothing new, or very few, based on the information leaked in the previous months. Maybe the Digital Crown was unexpected. You like it or not, we’ll see sales evolution when it comes to market, much later than other equivalent devices such as the Motorola 360 or the LG G Watch.

From the Apple watch just one remark, it will only work with the iphone 5 and above, which is a limitation but quite normal knowing how closed the Apple ecosystem is. And this ecosystem will be open to app developers that will take the device much beyond the initial usages. The watch is fully packed with all kind of sensors, great for many many cool options from sports to sleeping improvement.

The feature everybody was expecting and finally came, both in the Apple Watch and the iPhone 6 is NFC. Since it has been a standard within Android devices since a couple of years now, Apple seemed to be reluctant to implement this short range communication technology, to the point, seeing how Bluetooth LE and the iBeacon technology has evolved this year, to wonder if they were going to adopt it ever.

The truth is, as they did with the MP3 and the iPod, with the Phone and the iPhone, Apple waited to launch some hardware piece, even apparently mature, until the software ecosystem was ready. And they did it again.

Not only they are including NFC, they are including Apple Pay, a big big competition to PayPal and Amazon Payments, thanks toan agreement with the three major credit card issuers. And that’s where the next big thing is. Banks and credit card companies have invested millions deploying both cards and PoS terminals working with contactless (NFC) technology, and in that arena Apple needed to play a role. Now they’re there, but with their own rules, as always.


This article has originally been posted here.