How Storytellers transformed the psyche of Athens

The people of Greece were always telling stories. And these stories were everywhere – on TV, in cafes, in magazines, in books, in schools, in offices, on the Internet. As usual, the country was going through heavy political and economic turmoil. Strange groups called the Fire Nuclei and Golden Dawn were at war, while people from all nations watched the center of Athens become a crucible of fire and smoke and the smashing of marble slabs by hammer and fist. The sophisticated members of Athenian society were increasingly moving their money, homes and families to London, Vancouver, New York, Dubai and further afield. The middle class was shrinking and the poor were out in the streets. Even as the violence found momentum amidst global market upheaval, a core group of committed storytellers in the universities and cafes found their legs. They began experimenting with the effect of story upon society. Some even became interested in trying their hand at changing events through the application of storytelling techniques.

The concept that set the imagination of these storytellers on fire was a simple term: context. The storytellers realized they could place stories in specific contexts and drastically change the participants within that context in short periods of time. Through simple A-B testing, the storytellers tried various methods of influencing perception of groups within Athenian society simply with well-wrought digital stories. Word spread amongst Masters level and even University level students as to the potency of story in changing the day-to-day headlines and events in the city of Athens. A network of storytelling “cabals” arose quickly in the Athenian underground. Each had its goal, its desired outcome. Every group had its specific root or history and its specific parea to exert an effect upon. Wild excitement grew amongst these storytellers upon seeing the power of their tales. All over Athens, in the cafes, universities, workplaces, the youth and young workers were increasingly active online and offline and telling one another fantastic tales. The wave of storytelling reached a fever pitch.

The storytellers were also interested in finding a way to make money and build lives from their stories alone. And this began with education. It became not only fashionable but downright normal and a convention that the youth trained in digital storytelling as a basis of communication. The types of media involved in digital storytelling – graphic, motion graphic, video, animation, text, photo, and audio – became incredibly popular courses of study. The universities and media agencies of Athens all began selling courses and extra-curricular courses in this area. From the heads of Communications Departments to the managers of television stations, the trend grew. Vendors of software related to the types of media used in digital storytelling offered cut-rate deals to students and the sale of computers and software skyrocketed. In addition, many start-ups were founded in Athens related to the various types of media used in digital storytelling. When people around the world talked about the power of digital storytelling to change a society, they always referred to the Athens example from 2013-2017.

Now there were two types of schools of thought related to digital storytelling in Athens. One focused on recording events and putting an emphasis upon these events. And the other was focused on live interaction with physical events. But it was a third school of thought that really captured the imagination of Athenian youth: fiction that creates new realities. In this third school of thought, the storytellers would think up a story that showed what they wanted to happen and then they would design a timeline of content AND context in order to bring this story to life in the physical realm. Although traditional news had focused on reporting real-time events and interpreting these events in light of specific political and philosophical ideologies, this new approach openly celebrated the power of story to shape events. The idea was criticized heavily and then accepted universally as repeated good results were shown.

This third approach to communications had a simple mechanism or function: a digital storyteller would write a story and create an editorial calendar for posting snippets of the story into specific contexts. The goal was to take control of that context through the various elements used AND the personalities conscripted to participate. In every case, a very clear outcome was written in an executive summary. The stories always had alternative paths built into the mechanism in anticipation of specific reactions by members of specific contexts. The approach had such an effective outcome for the students and staff working together that the form took off like wildfire in Athens. The model is what we formally call Dynamic/Active in formal digital storytelling, where user action foments additional dynamic content action.

As a result of this bias towards Dynamic/Active action in digital storytelling circles, storytellers became highly interested in psychology. Gaining an understanding of the psychologies of specific Athenian contexts, i.e.- pareas, became a major focus on the digital storytelling curriculum in Athens. A group of researchers mapped the current “ethos” of every known parea, small and large, in Athens, along with every sub-culture in the city. The map grew into a living infographic, which digital storytellers attempted to alter through their tales. It was this living infographic that caught the attention of the global media establishment and the world at large. And it is this living infographic that is really the starting point of our unique story.

How Analysts Deliver Meaningful Actions to Stakeholders

The following post was inspired by a recent day of meetings at a major FMCG (Fast-Moving Consumer Goods) retailer in the United States. The post focuses on the use of market-related insights to deliver action-inducing stories to brand leadership and technical staff within the corporation.

THE “DEEP” ANALYST – A DEFINITION: A “deep” analyst chooses a psychological theme for analyzing a massive amount of data. For example, a “deep” analyst could apply an understanding of Jungian psychology to his/her analysis, focusing on classical Jungian therapeutic definitions as a guide for data segmentation. Such an analyst would seek to answer classical Jungian questions about an individual or group through his/her work with the data — for example, what “shadow” or unconscious elements of our corporation now animate our workforce? A corporate leader would want to know about these “hidden” animators of daily workforce behavior to better align manager actions and gain more precise results from staff.

(Summary: A researcher can study customer behavior and then tell corporate leadership what is secretly controlling staff and consumer actions.)

THE VALUE OF THE “DEEP” APPROACH: A significant value in the “deep” psychological approach to data is a wealth of short, yet powerful, anecdotes derived from research and “strung” along the path of a classical inner journey. When applied to a corporation, such stories offer tremendous value to stakeholders in making better decisions about a host of internal and external issues. As an example, what would happen if a major corporation studied Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, discovered where on that journey specific business units currently “walked”, and was better able to make decisions based upon this metaphor?

(Summary: A researcher can study customer behavior and then tell stories to corporate leadership as a means to inspiring specific helpful actions.)

THE ACTIONS OF A “DEEP” ANALYST WITHIN THE CORPORATION: The first action such a “deep” analyst takes within a corporate entity is to reveal the archetype at the brand core: that force in the unconscious of the company that is animating its stakeholders. The second action is to reveal who is consciously engaged with that archetype. The third is to influence, change and enhance the magnetism of the brand’s core so that customers and stakeholders are better served by a more inspired brand leadership.

(Summary: A researcher is curious about the main story of a brand or company. He/she is also interested in who else is aware of this story and what they do about this story on a regular basis. Finally, the researcher takes action to grow awareness of this story so that more people in a corporation will be helped/inspired and do a better job.)

RESULT #1 – INSPIRATION FOR TEAM LEADERS FROM INSIGHTS: Leadership will take insights gleaned by a “deep” analyst and engage more effectively with the core of the brand. A corporate leader must be steeped in the living and numinous entity that pulses at the center of the brand. Such devotion by the leader inspires stakeholders, merchant partners, employees and customers. You can tell when a corporate leader has become fully possessed by his/her brand…just take a look at Branson, Hsieh and Bezos. These are beings who enter regularly into the “fire” that burns at the core of their respective brands, emerging with powerful inspiration, drive and leadership for the entire corporate entity. The right set of stories derived through insights will ideally lift the “uninspired” leader to a new level of excitement about his/her business unit. In such cases, a single metaphor derived from insight can give birth to a greater level of passion in the leader and lift his/her staff up to a higher level of performance as a result.

RESULT #2 – WHAT A “DEEP” INSIGHT REVEALS: A deep insight reveals what animates a corporate entity, identifies the lenses within leadership upon company events and is a story of consequences (both “good” and “bad”). A deep insight inspires a bevy of possible actions and conceives strategies that will best serve current initiatives, stakeholders and customers. A deep insight will chart a path for brand leadership in winning on all levels. A deep insight contains the voices of a Critic AND a Creative, doing their duet. In this song, the Critic refines the Creative’s gift and the Creative ends up delivering happiness to the Critic: a win-win. Key: A deep insight provides a host of windows for times when doors seem to be closing.

THE FMCG EXAMPLE – HOW INSIGHTS BECOME PRACTICAL AND ACTION-INDUCING: Let us take, for instance, a leading FMCG entity with one foot in “flesh-retail” and one foot in the digital realm. This entity has an opportunity to weave flesh and digital with such elegance, such precision, that a customer hardly has to think when being served by one or the other. Deep insights will deliver tech so deeply embedded into the customer experience that the tech disappears…the customer makes his/her use of the tech a daily, even hourly, action.

Let us say, for instance, that this FMCG entity has created an app that delivers daily personalized discounts based on the customer’s past purchases, current financial “reality” and publicly expressed wishes. What a win for everyone! The customer wins because every time he/she steps into the retail or digital outlet, a discount on his/her faves is given (plus a whole lot more, in the ideal scenario). The resulting love affair influences the customer’s friends to participate and the merchants serving this FMCG are glowing with happiness as sales go up. The resulting community is a truly potent entity, able to extend seemingly un-ending generosity within itself and to its greater community. Everyone wants a piece of the action in such a scenario.

SUMMARY: An analyst focused on “deep” insights will evangelize the power of such intelligence throughout the corporate entity, throughout the brand organism. Such an analyst will educate every silo on how to use insights from intelligence for daily wins: within internal focus groups, (solving previously “un-solveable” issues), within customer focus groups, (solving those daily headaches that slow down the purchase cycle), within competitive situations, (revealing collaborative possibilities). A deep insight is the “A-ha!”, the “Eureka!”…and with the depth of data currently available, the market intelligence analyst working within a corporate entity has abundant and daily opportunities to make this exclamation and deliver powerful actions to every silo, every leader, every employee and, ultimately, to every customer.

Customer First Yields Success Over and Over Again

It is the CEO who thinks about his/her customer first that successfully leads employees, vendors, and all stakeholders to daily consumer-level wins, employee satisfaction and stakeholder confidence. It is the CEO who takes weekly incognito walks down the aisles of his/her retail outlets, listening & talking with customers/employees about “the small, real things”…it is such a person who will transform the enterprise into a united, healthy and joy-giving organism.

Julio Viskovich has recently posted an excellent example of how social business staff at a brand can help the CEO put customers first. Viskovich writes, “Just now I read a tweet addressed to my city ‘In #Vancouver and need a place to stay for the night. Any suggestions?’ It’s been 5 minutes and not a single hotel has responded. I’m thinking of reaching out and offering my guest room for $40 per night.” SOURCE: http://bit.ly/SocialSelling2013

Using smart social analytics, cutting-edge HR is now selecting brand leadership from within their own customer base. The new Chief Customer Executive and his/her cohorts are selected directly from the consumers and raised to power within the organization as advocates for the consumer alone. This smart new move by the HR silo using web intelligence is the latest indication of how powerful social tech has become: the customer and HR are conspiring to facilitate daily consumer wins…and wise brand stakeholders are on board with this revolution.

Social Business Intelligence Advance #4

The business intelligence solution that marketers want is the following: a cloud-based service that is comprehensively analyzing in real-time networks of regular customers AND matching these customers (and their friends) to upcoming deals specific to past purchases. For instance, if Amazon were to fully integrate its data with Facebook’s data, a profound level of matching would become possible. Senior leadership within major FMCG and retail entities should be actively cultivating technical vendors and in-house technicians to achieve this type of customer intelligence solution.

On Networks and Individuals – a vital shift for the corporate mindset

One of the most forward-thinking actions a large entity can take in 2013 is designing programs through which small and medium sized entities may become affiliates. To say this again: see your prospect list as a list of networks, NOT as a list of individuals. And begin now to study these networks, to segment the individuals within these networks and to devise scripts, business plans and strategic alliances with each and every one (where it makes sense).

Seeing individuals as networks is perhaps the most important mind change for the C-Suite. In a world of social networks and social business, such a leap is how large corporations will stay alive. As Peter Economides, a leading market strategist, has said, “Mass is the aberration, one-to-one is the convention.” We have to get back to the mindset of the neighborhood shop, the hyper-local one-to-one way of business. This is how economies will flourish again, and why large businesses should begin to invest cash into lucrative local pools of affiliates.

When a corporation receives access to social networks through its staff, when the C-Suite is introduced into these networks, the initial questions have to do with practical application. An employee seeking to demonstrate the practical application of social business need only pick up the old rolodex on the desk of his/her CEO. That rolodex, that little black book, IS the central symbol for clueing the C-Suite into the practical application of social networks. And the entity that started in 2007 to build online rolodexes, to segment these into lists of prospects, future employees, affiliates, vendors, and competitors, has already streaked out ahead of the entity just entering social networks.

Eleftherios Hatziioannou, Principal at Peopleizers, captures the dilemma for corporate leaders: “Marketers and the organizations behind them need to stop thinking in quantitative metrics only and add some deeper/relationship-based success factors to their strategies. However, these are more difficult to scale, because it takes one relationship at a time. This puts many businesses off. They think: How am I supposed to answer every single question out there? Isn’t it more efficient to just keep interrupting people with our messages the way we did in the past decades?”

Corporations wishing to succeed in social networks will have to divert a percentage of advertising & media spending towards a new “Relationship Marketing” Department, populated with customer-service minded folks — the mindset in this department ought to be more like the real estate agent vs. the call center “cold caller” who has to get through a specific number of calls before lunch. In this new Relationship Marketing Department, it’s about quality contacts and quality networks derived from research followed up with highly customized customer-service flavored sales — solutions-oriented sales leading to a long-term relationship.

Social Business Intelligence Advance #3

It is not enough to have a web intelligence solution that shows us where our own internal CRM is connected to important conversations and trends. We must also have a solution that shows us where our competitors’ CRM is connected to these same conversations and trends. In addition, we must have a solution that automatically delivers a set of individuals exactly like our best customers, complete with First Name, Last Name, Current Phone, Current Email, Current Social Links and cited examples of participation in these important conversations and trends. That’s the solution yet to be achieved in the social business intelligence world.

Social Business Intelligence Advance #1 and #2

When social business intelligence solutions provide a “Create Prospects CRM” button, the social analytics industry will have leapt one more notch forward. What it looks like is this: a series of 10,000 individuals have commented on a specific brand/issue over 1 month AND this CRM button collects Name, Current Address, Current Phone, Current Email, Current social links for each individual. Instantly. Downloadable in a CSV format or a colorful PDF “dossier-style” format. The social media monitoring solution that offers this button will become a global leader in prospect generation.

Advance number two is when this service is fully applicable across global borders, delivering such info for residents of all nations.

The Sweet Spot in Social Business Intelligence for Weaving Marcoms and Sales: The Machine & Marketing/Sales Process

CONTEXT:
A fierce debate still rages between marketing and sales in most organizations as the enterprise seeks to understand how to use social data for both silos. With exceptional software and smart cross-silo relations, marketing and sales can collaborate on nurturing and closing ideal prospects. This blog post has outlined the type of software needed to do this AND a sample sales approach for teams to consider.

WHAT THIS POST COVERS
This post covers three specific topics:

1. The exact description of an ideal social business intelligence “machine” that would serve both marcoms and sales.

2. The functionality this social business intelligence machine would possess.

3. A set of potent actions that combine a bit of marketing and bit of sales, thus demonstrating how one can progress from market research (using social data) to a closed sales deal.

THE IDEAL SOCIAL BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE MACHINE: The sweet spot for social business software is between the marcoms & sales silos, between pools of potential fans & fresh prospect data. The social business software of tomorrow will bring understanding between marcoms and sales, will create an easy funnel for “smart” fans/followers to become customers. Deriving prospects from social data has never been easier with the combination of solutions now avail to the marcoms & sales silos. Now these solutions need to be “merged” into one single machine. I describe this machine below.

THE EXACT FUNCTIONS OF THE IDEAL SOCIAL BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE MACHINE (as desired by Marketing and Sales silos):
In the coming powerful social business intelligence software (the “ideal machine”), we will see the following features:

1. Dials to find the exact people fitting prospect profiles. Imagine being able to pull every profile from every major social network AND THEN have dials to hone results down to exactly the customer profiles your business seeks.

2. Get suggestions from the software (from “the machine”) of other “pools of prospects” and prospect types BASED UPON your initial search.

3. Then, imagine pushing a “button” and getting current phone, email, physical address, add’l social links appended on-the-fly to the social profiles discovered thus far in the process above.

4. Now, mix in Topics of Influence & Volume of activity by each profile relative to the themes in your marketing & sales campaigns.

A SET OF POTENT ACTIONS FOR MARKETING & SALES AFTER EXTRACTING IDEAL PROFILES FROM THE SBI MACHINE:

1. STUDY THE LAST FEW DAYS OF TWEETS/SOCIAL MESSAGING: See what the individual is talking about. What is important to him/her? Jot down one or two specific points about these tweets/social posts/forum comments that you can compliment him/her on.

2. STUDY THE WEBSITE OF THE INDIVIDUAL: See how the individual presents himself/herself to the world. Find one to two items on the website to compliment the person about. This will make the call warmer and open an opportunity to collaborate.

3. SEND AN EMAIL TO THE PROSPECT FIRST: A powerful way to invite the person is to send a personal email wherein you introduce yourself briefly, lace in the compliments you discovered through Twitter, other social properties, blog comments, and his/her website, and then invite the individual into a collaboration.

See below sample of an email to send:

Dear Tom,

I am a Client Partner at BrandX, an FMCG group based in Los Angeles, California. Your materials online and, in particular, your steady stream of tweets chronicling your typical business process have impressed me. Would you have some time during the coming week to discuss what you are up to, what we are doing, and a possible collaboration with us?

Kind regards,

Client Partner
BrandX

4. SCHEDULE A PHONE CALL: When you get a reply to your email, schedule a call with the person. The call will involve listening to the Prospect, letting him/her know what we appreciate about him/her, what we saw in his/her materials and then working on an idea to collaborate on. It is a good plan to come to the call with some options that are personalized.

SUMMARY:
A fierce debate still rages between marketing and sales in most organizations as the enterprise seeks to understand how to use social data for both silos. With exceptional software and smart cross-silo relations, marketing and sales can collaborate on nurturing and closing ideal prospects. This blog post has outlined the type of software needed to do this AND a sample sales approach for teams to consider.

Weaving Humanity Into a Golden Chord For the Seventh Generation

Nowadays, the depth of avail data provides a foundation for putting the “7th-generation” puzzle together accurately. #SeventhGeneration

SEVENTH GENERATION THINKING: Customers can now be matched with products/services that truly serve a need every single second of every single day. The data is that rich now. ALSO, there is enough positive intent nowadays to make this a nurturing process…for the planet, for humanity and for the “seventh generation”. The throw-away culture of two generations ago is being replaced with “seventh-generation” oriented action-takers. AND, the depth of available data actually provides a foundation for putting this “seventh-generation” puzzle together accurately. #SeventhGeneration #ForwardThinking #WiseData

WARP-SPEED MANIFESTATION: Since the Internet is not a hierarchy, all images, text, movies and songs have the opportunity to grow very large and swallow preceding “giants”. As a collective entity, perhaps the Internet is like a serpent swallowing its own tail. Being within this multi-dimensional eco-system is a transformative experience for individuals and the collective. Humanity is undergoing an extremely rapid phase of evolution presently. Extremely rapid and deep. Humans are realizing how malleable time can be…particularly since ideas become flesh at light-speed now. What would have once taken an entire generation to unfold occurs within minutes in today’s world.

Each person has the innate ability to take a dream and make the images in his/her mind into a tangible, concrete physical experience.

WEAVE YOUR REALITY: An innate talent taken from humans long ago is the ability to create tangible physical realities out of intangibles. Slices of humanity do this for a living: artists, writers, inventors, business founders. But each person has the innate ability to take a dream and make the images in his/her mind into a tangible, concrete physical experience. Try this today. Draw something simple on a piece of paper, such as you walking to the fridge and getting a glass of juice. Then stand up and do it. Now add complexity to this and watch the most “impossible” images turn into physical experience. #PracticalMagic #FictionIntoReality #Here2There

Each person has the innate ability to take a dream and make the images in his/her mind into a tangible, concrete physical experience. Each person can quite easily go from “here” to “there” nowadays.

The Relationship between Marketing Communications and Sales

The Ideal:

The key to long term success is to have Imagination, Persistence, Compassion.

Fostering a deep, real and fruitful conversation between marketing communications AND sales is one of the most important tasks for senior managers nowadays. The marketing department is working with product development on a lovely garden. And sales is out there hunting, hunting, hunting to bring “eaters” to the garden. Market researchers see who the potential “eaters” are from a distance and, ideally, marcoms aids sales with extremely accurate messaging to lure the “eaters” into a rich and beautiful experience.

Joan Damico writes, “Marcom (Marketing communications) tends to operate from a longer term visionary / brand perspective. This often leads to a content clash with sales, which must meet monthly and quarterly revenue targets. There’s opportunity for marcom and sales to reach a happy medium between content that is visionary, such as thought leadership, and tactical content that is more immediately useable, such as ROI calculators and product comparisons.” (SOURCE: http://www.business2community.com/content-marketing/will-content-marketing-end-contentious-b2b-marketing-and-sales-relationship-0504728)

Damico’s excellent observation pinpoints the need for accuracy within the marcoms-sales relationship. Ideally, the two silos come to an understanding and are able to work together. The process of market research, content development and “message tweaking” can seem endless to the Sales silo. Salespeople want it “right now”. This is why it is wise of senior managers to start specific marketing programs six-twelve months PRIOR to attached sales initiatives. In fact, a deep market audit can inform a far more accurate sales process and marcoms can provide the sales teams with incredibly accurate and effective messaging due to the research. Likewise, sales can communicate their on-the-ground experience with customers to marcoms. That’s a very rich conversation and planning approach!

Seth Godin writes, “Valuable marketing campaigns are the result of time and user experience, not media and more media. Social media is a marathon, a gradual process in which you build a reputation. The best time to start was a while ago. The second best time to start is today. But turning it up to 11 isn’t going to get you there faster.” (SOURCE: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2013/06/the-thermostat-and-the-frying-pan.html)

When a marcoms team has been given a realistic lead time, their contribution to the sales silo will be very valuable. More managers have to realize the differing pace of marcoms and sales. And need to plan accordingly.