Challenging the Status Quo of Marketing Groupthink

Tony Compton, Managing Director


The average tenure of a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) is somewhat short. Two years, maybe three or four. It depends which study you reference. I thought I read it was getting better nowadays. But there’s a long way to go…

Even with the short tenures, CMOs still apply approaches that are:

Outdated. Passive. Common. Routine. Disconnected. Just Because.



of “Careful” Value.

I was going write of “Zero Value” – but that’s not true. There’s some value to what some are doing in marketing. But so much in marketing nowadays simply gets by. And there is value in simply getting by in:

  • Digital Marketing
  • Events and Trade Show Marketing
  • Content and Sales Enablement
  • Product Marketing
  • “Paint by Numbers” marketing leadership from CMOs.

…but simply getting by is not in my nature.

You see it everyday. Fill-in-the-blank marketing. The majority accept, and few challenge. Groupthink. Marketing Groupthink.

That’s how I view far too many approaches to marketing.

Here are five readily identifiable areas that demonstrate marketing groupthink:

1. Digital Marketing

Copy and paste each and every “Digital Marketing” job description easily found populating the ‘black hole’ career sections of corporate websites. And LinkedIn. And others. Digital Marketing has become what? Search engines, keywords, social media maintenance, websites, emails, some writing, some campaigns, some lead gen, some CRM system data upload, some reporting, etc… Your company does it. You do digital marketing the same as the next one, and the next… Why? I dunno. It’s become routine.

Want to challenge the digital status quo? Have your digital marketers put down the electronics and stand in front of the class and tell your corporate story. Or venture out with sales people to talk to customers. Don’t tell me those ideas to marketing groupthink won’t make your digital marketers better at what they do.

2. Events and Trade Show Marketing

Your marketing up to, during, and after your company’s events has become predictable. And safe. How so? Your BIG industry event is coming up. So you pepper your contact db with messages about your sponsored appearance. (So does everybody else.) You promote your event appearance and solicit on-site meetings to drive the appearance of after-show value with high-end opportunities. (So does everybody else.) A sponsored reception, party, or steak dinner may be in the offing. You have your booth. Your paint-by-numbers booth. And you may have a presentation. Or a seat on the ‘cure for insomnia’ panel discussion. Then you (hopefully) dissect your after-show contact spreadsheet to email, call, and solicit. Just like everybody else.

Am I close?

Want to challenge the status quo? Take a hard look at why your company does the events it does. Ask questions. Don’t just take another spot on the show floor and populate it with outdated collateral, spinning PPTs, a ‘cheap’ exhibit, and people who have zero personal communication game. You may also wish to prepare your company speakers before their next presentation. You may wish to turn off your mobile cameras before streaming live video without preparation. Negotiate with event vendors, save money. And leave some of your budget-busting staff at home.

Get serious – and creative – about your events strategy.

This one’s tough. But if you want to disrupt your trade show and event groupthink – you’ll break new ground.

3. Content and Sales Enablement

Content, content, content. Somedays that’s all you’ll read. But it’s the security blanket of the ill-prepared. For terrible slides for unprepared speakers. For endless, text-heavy case studies. For websites that could double as a maze in a corn field.

I’ve never said content isn’t important. But I’ve been around the block a few times in marketing. Content ends up residing on local laptops in all forms known to mankind. Or in a central repository which dates back to 2007. And once the content is retrieved, it’s deflates the person who found it because it’s the same thing Joe used for a presentation in Chicago last week. Outdated messaging and all.

And how exactly is producing all of this “content” enabling sales?

Besides the obvious groupthink approach that sales needs content to be effective?

Want to challenge the status quo? Make sure that those that produce the content can actually use their content. Have them present it as a sales person would: on the phone, on a webinar, in a boardroom, on-stage, and on-camera. It’ll make them better content producers if they experience first-hand how it’s used.

More, it’s wise to make sure that those who are using the content can demonstrate that they, too, know how to use it in multichannel scenarios. (That’s means your inside sales reps and your external business developers. Your marketers, customer service agents, and partners. And your executives.) Be sure to make sure that those who use the content, can use the content.

Because the marketing groupthink approach to content and sales enablement simply dictates creation. And dumping of content. And freelancing of usage.

Of course I’m familiar with sales enablement technology that catalogues content. Customizes content. And delivers content. But that doesn’t mean the end-user in the field can use and present the content. (And those vendors will never tell you that.)

4. Product Marketing

I’ve written about how product marketing could be on the verge of automation. About how it’s become a cookie-cutter endeavor at so many tech companies. I know it’s supposed to be this strategic, go-to-market leadership function, but it isn’t. Not anymore. Not at the companies who copy and paste their product marketing requirements just like the vendor next door.

Follow-me, again, to be sure I got this job’s requirements down: product marketing is to develop strategy, go-to-market messaging, value props, and unique differentiators, have it’s ear to the market, the trends, the competitive landscape, the alliance partners…

Product marketing is to develop content. Draw up battle cards. Unveil material to support business growth. To forecast opportunity. To interface with industry analysts. Understand the buyers. Some subject matter expertise and some public speaking and presentation work.

Toss in a product launch, event, campaign, and marcom support, some sales enablement, with financial and technical expertise, and you’ve got the product marketing picture.

And so does every other company housing one or more product marketers.

Challenging the product marketing status quo is easy. And damn sure should be required.

Last I checked, there are ~5000 MarTech vendors, spanning all imaginable industry sectors. How in the world are you going to break out in that landscape if your product marketing approach is the same as every single competitor? And for those not in the MarTech 5000 – the same question applies. What are you doing differently?

Ideas on how to do so? Sure…

Let me start by saying I’ve seen the problem. Your go-to-market problem. You’ve got good people doing good work with great technology. But where product marketing is supposed to lead, it time and again drops the ball. Change it by:

Preparing your product marketers to regularly visit, present, and interact with customers, prospects, analysts, and the media. Prepare for interactions across all formats. Remote, and in-person. On-camera, on-webinars, and in-person. You’re likely not doing this today. I know because I pay attention. It’s easy to spot. To hear. To see. To read. Get your product marketing communication game tight.

Prepare your product marketing leadership skills. I once sat in on a presentation from one BIG Tech company that was unbearable. They were so proud of a 100+ slide deck but forgot to tell the six remote presenters on a web-conference call how to organize and make sense of it amongst themselves and for the audience. Product marketing is in the leadership role, and took none.

Add creativity. Real creativity. Turn product marketing into storytellers. Stop doing the same events, the same panel discussions, the same public-facing tasks… create a brand for product marketing by doing things differently: creating your own events, podcasts, webinars, videos… separate from the field of product marketing clones. Attack your target audience outside the standard methods of outdated product marketing groupthink.

5. Marketing Leadership

Or should the section be called the “be quiet, accept the marketing groupthink, and just do your job…

It’s the biggest “paint-by-number” and “color between the lines” area of marketing groupthink.

Marketing strategy? There’s a template for that.

The marketing plan? There’s a template for that.

The marketing budget? There’s a template for that.

The approach to events? There’s a template for that.

The quarterly marketing report? There’s a template for that.

The quarterly marketing ops report? There’s a template for that.

The quarterly product marketing report? There should be a template for that.

To marketing videos? Stare into the camera, off-set right, ask softball questions, and overlay graphics.

The approach to webinars and other recorded audio material? Overdo the content, and add one ill-prepared voiceover. Record ‘good enough’ sound to give the impression of using a tin can in a cavernous concrete room.

The leadership approach applied to marketing? So common that you don’t need a template.

Here, I’m busted. You need a marketing strategy, plan, and budget. And you have to report on marketing activities. Those are the current table stakes.

But I’ve sat in those rooms with marketing leaders.

They’re the same leaders who copy and paste last year’s approach to this year’s plan.

The ones who won’t hear of true sales enablement, innovative approaches to content, sales-oriented management styles, and creative, groundbreaking marketing.

Who nod, shake their heads, and clap politely when the next expert dumps useless but feel-good information on them.

Marketing leaders who won’t deviate from standard operating procedure.

Who’ve become infamous for low average #CMO tenures.

This article is over, but I’m just getting warmed up.

I want you to exercise your marketing creativity. Your marketing passion.

And not let it be held captive by a Xeroxed job description or outdated approaches to marketing management.

There are those who accept marketing groupthink. Who want to accept marketing groupthink. No challenges to their way of business thinking allowed.

So you can either smile and go back to your cube, or you can challenge the stats quo.

Challenging means creating.

It means professional #leadership.

It means taking ownership in the business.

Seeing that talent is nurtured.

For ensuring success.

For acting on the need to bring marketing innovation – and professional disruption.

In technology and business practices.

For breaking the business mold and doing something that stands out in the crowded marketing landscape.

To strive for excellence in yourself and those around you.


For more on Challenging the Status Quo of #Marketing Groupthink, follow me on Twitter: @tonycompton, @GettingPresence

For immediate #presentation & #publicspeaking tips, visit the GettingPresence website.

United Has Plenty of Company in Playing it Cheap

Tony Compton, Managing Director

The damage is done.

United’s brand and reputation have been irreparably harmed for a generation, at minimum.

Once upon a time I was a #United frequent flyer. I think I have over 400k lifetime miles on the airline. I’m not 100% certain of that number because I haven’t flown United since last summer, and I just don’t feel like checking my UA frequent flyer account. And for this #Chicago born and raised traveler, I can’t say I was totally surprised to learn about what had happened with one of their passengers. Shocked, angry, disgusted… yep. Surprised? Not really.

The world now knows what far too many ORD flyers have known about United for years: the airline is – to say the least – operationally challenged. The way it has served its customers has been deteriorating for years and I’d given up on United, flying them only when absolutely necessary.

Then this incident in Chicago happened.

No doubt you’ve heard about the firestorm that has engulfed United Airlines this past week. But this post isn’t a rehash of the events that transpired this past Sunday. It’s an article that examines one specific element within the sequence of events that got the airline to where it finds itself today. One particular business aspect of the rotten customer experience that United executives and investors surely wish they could get back. It’s one that was controllable, would have made economic sense, and one that United CEO Oscar Munoz would go back in time to retrieve if given the opportunity. But that ship sailed on Sunday, and now it’s too late.

I’m talking about the $800 (USD) ceiling that was the cutoff between the final offer from the airline to entice volunteers to stay the night in Chicago and the start of the passenger selection and eviction process which led to the physical incident with Dr. David Dao. The compensatory offers from the airline to the passengers on that Chicago to Louisville flight should’ve increased. Eventually some passengers would’ve taken a higher amount to give up their seats. Even if they had to get to their final destination, a few may have (or should have) put on their thinking caps and ran the numbers: $800 (or more) minus a one-day car rental to Louisville – minus gas – equals profit for themselves. Even if that profit came in the form of a voucher for future United travel. The drive from Chicago-O’Hare to Louisville is only five hours, and I’ve driven it many, many times. It’s a piece of cake. But I digress…

The point is that United played it cheap with its passenger offers, and it’ll cost the airline exponentially more than the small amount of extra funds it would’ve taken to get one of its Louisville-bound customers to accept an offer for their seat. Sad part about it is United isn’t alone in playing it cheap. Far from it. They have plenty of company across all industries in the form of other organizations which think it’s either perfectly acceptable to gamble with certain business situations, not invest in critical areas of their business, remain ignorant or stubborn in their corporate arrogance, and conduct business as usual with their heads in the clouds.

Until it’s too late.

From a #sales, #marketing, #technology, and #socialmedia perspective, here’s how:

1. Professional Development

Employees are continuously asked to write, present, and communicate. Market, sell, and service customers. To organize and run meetings, lead teams, resolve problems, and perform at a high level. But when it comes to provide professional business coaching for any of the above, most companies fall short or offer their employees nothing at all. Yet employees are thrown into situations when they’re either not equipped for success or nothing has been done to maintain and upgrade their skills. And for those who claim that employees should have certain professional skills when they’re hired and that they don’t need to provide additional support… I’m certain Michael Jordan knew how to play basketball before joining the Chicago Bulls. Tiger Woods knew how to play golf before and after he won his first Masters tournament. Yet they always had coaches to improve their games. They were at the top of their games and still needed coaching and practice. All companies should do the same for their employees. (And no, those once-a-year two day cookie cutter training sessions don’t suffice.)

When is it too late? Every time a speaker is ill-prepared for a presentation, a rep isn’t prepped for a customer interaction, a webinar unfolds with a lackluster approach, a time-wasting team meeting is held, a company’s brand and reputation are damaged.

2. Trade Show Sponsorships and Exhibits

A juicy Silver-level sponsorship at the next industry event is secured. Not platinum, nor Gold, but it includes a 10’ x 10’ booth location in a decent, but not great, area within the exhibit hall. But beyond the initial sponsorship investment, not much is done by the sponsoring company to succeed at the event. A homemade booth, constructed by a combination of sales, marketing, and office staff who should be doing something far more productive occupies the exhibit space. Poor exhibit messaging, no staff preparation, and five-figures of investment flushed down the toilet. And the sponsoring company wonders why the attendee world didn’t come running to their exhibit? Corporate damage at an event, complete.

When is it too late? Most likely weeks or months before an events starts, but certainly one minute after the exhibit hall doors open.

3. Live from… Trade Shows, Conferences, and Events

The ongoing frustration with inept speakers giving bad, text-and-tech heavy presentations has been a cross-industry plague for decades. Today, lousy presenters aren’t confined to the ballroom. Everybody walks the convention hall and its exhibit hall floor with a video camera and mobile TV studio in their pockets. Show attendees will put your naive employees on live television on a moment’s notice – with disastrous results. I’ve seen it happen and that content lasts forever. If each and every one of your event-bound staff are not fully prepared for how they will be seen and heard on-camera, a company is gambling with its brand and reputation.

When is it too late? As soon as somebody hits that camera button on their smartphone or tablet and streams live, from your booth, demo, or event session.

4. Voice, Video, and Media

Some companies place little value in the voice of their corporate content. I’m talking about the actual voice that is used to voiceover company productions that can range from ebooks, to demos, to radio and TV commercials, to event videos. More, some companies place little value in the video and voice of their corporate content. About that, I’m talking about the notion that turning on a smartphone camera is all it takes to produce compelling, thought-provoking, lead generating content that will attract and hold an audience. And what about simply transferring bad presentations into streaming media, thinking that will do the trick?

When is it too late? The moment somebody sees and hears your employees or multimedia content and realizes your prep and production values are garbage. Then hits the off button and tells two friends, who tell two friends…

5. Technology, Across-the-Board

Still running your Commodore 64 corporate laptops on IE7? Using software that’s outdated, not integrated, not maintained, nor supported? Still too cheap to consider the tech tools that can actually make your team more efficient and much more effective in their pursuit of identifying new customers, enabling sales, servicing customers, and winning new business?

The year is 2017, not 2009. The recession is long over and it’s the employees holding the job market cards, not the companies. The time for employees to accept less-than-minimal tech support from companies because of tough economic times and fear of job acquisition or loss is over.

When is it too late? The moment a company starts losing the competitive recruiting and turnover battle for talent.

It’s possible to extensively extend this list and go even further. Chances are that you’re aware of many situations where a company is being cheap at its own risk. Some executives turn away from the business suggestions and pleas from its employees, customers, and partners in order to short-sightedly save a buck or two. Some succeed at getting away with it. Others get away with it until something goes wrong, but then it’s too late and very costly.

Unfortunately, there are those who will only take action when something goes terribly wrong.

United investors and executives had every opportunity to listen and handle their business differently, but they chose another path – no matter what the slick on-board pre-departure videos produced over the years said. Their public relations failed. Their corporate #communications failed. Their #customer relations failed. And yes, they were cheap and arrogant about the whole damn thing.

Play it cheap, and gamble with your own business at your own risk.

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Five Product Marketing Train Wrecks You’ll Want to Avoid

Tony Compton, Managing Director

I can’t quite completely close my eyes and write this article. I have to see my laptop and its keyboard to get the job done. I don’t employ any sort of speech-to-text technology, so it’s the traditional method of typing another post for me.

But I can close my eyes and envision the repetitive, copycat product marketing job descriptions plastered across Internet job sites and career centers – before writing my own generic summary of them. On average, those descriptions read something like… Product Marketing Help Wanted: candidates who have experience understanding market dynamics, setting #strategy, enabling #sales, forecasting accurately, being subject matter experts, displaying fluency in the competitive landscape, cobbling together a SWOT analysis, talking to analysts, supporting product launches, interacting with partners, supporting campaigns and lead generation efforts, writing and creating #content, recognizing opportunity, representing the company at major events, trade shows and conferences, running and delivering departmental reports…

Since my work has largely been in the B2B enterprise software and professional services space, I think I’m fairly close in my assessment of those one-size-fits-all product marketing job descriptions. Sure, you may add your own flavor to your own description, and add a bit about deep, deep, deep precise technical knowledge, the need to be a social media or SEO/SEM keyword rockstar, or know something about SaaS and other software delivery models, but my breakdown lands close to center.

But it’s what’s not included in those product marketing job descriptions that can – and has – led to disaster. Here are just five examples:

1. Nothing to Show for Product Marketing Efforts

For all of that fancy talk of marketing strategy this, and content creation that, if at the end of the next fiscal quarter product marketing can’t produce and deliver some form of measured economic value report, trouble is brewing. And I’m not talking about running some last-minute lead generation report off of a CRM or Marketing Automation system. Product Marketing must know why deals in each and every quarter were won or lost, the revenue gained or lost, why business events transpired the way they did, and what worked and didn’t work, in which regions, the content used, the communication skills deployed, the marketing channels engaged, and the corrective actions that will be taken.

2. It’s 1st and Goal from the 1, but Your Team Can’t Take the Field

Some product marketers can (seemingly) be very good at what they do. Astute market strategy, fantastic compilers of content, technically fluent, and all around good people. The problem lies in product marketing’s lack of ability to help get the team across the goal line. I’ve seen it before: good people, with good products and services. But they’re wholly ineffective at taking what they have to market, which leads to boatload of go-nowhere marketing clutter and terrible sales enablement. Their team can’t take the field, let along cross the goal line. This is far more common than you may realize.

3. Zero Personal or Team Presentation Skills

I’ve watched company presentations allegedly orchestrated by product marketing that have included everybody from product management, to executives, to sales engineers, to consultants, and beyond. (Sometimes I wonder what happened to the overnight security guard.) Product launches, corporate updates, etc… Far too many product marketers are consumed with helping create slide decks with over 100 slides that encompass everybody under the sun. Yes, over 100 slides. Then the attempt to cram that slide deck into a 55-minute presentation is even more amusing, especially when a group of colleagues each takes a piece of the presentation. What’s memorable about it (besides the mess left behind for the audience to decipher) — is nothing. Any product marketer with any sense of business presentation skill should know better than to go down the path of these types of presentations.

4. Inability to Inform, Train or Coach Colleagues

Let’s keep building on the sales partnership front. As a product marketer, I’ve had the task of working with global colleagues to introduce them to the latest on products, services, competitors, customers, etc. But I had to do in both in-person and virtual formats. Even on-camera. That means having the skill to seamlessly move from communication format to communication format to discuss all that was fit to share. It’s one thing to create strategy, plans, content, and recommendations and upload it to an internal portal or sales enablement tool and dump it on the team. It’s another ballgame to stand in front of your audience, introduce it, and work with them on its effective use. BTW – product marketing must do this constantly, and quickly. No more waiting around for the January sales kickoff or that mid-year company boondoggle where marketing gets 30 minutes on the corporate agenda.

5. Being Captain Obvious: One Step Away from Product Marketing Automation 

So product marketing must compile what those at Gartner, Forrester, and the rest have to say about the market? Take information and run reports off of the CRM system? The same for the marketing automation tool? To quote and use the Office Space line, “What would you say Product Marketing does here…” I can envision much of what product marketing does as becoming robotic — data to be inputted into standardized quarterly and annual reports that any stakeholder can see. The solution – product marketing should take everything into consideration and develop thoughts, opinions, and original strategies of its own. Things nobody will hear anyplace else. Product Marketing commoditization should be a thing of the past. Tell me (and every single audience) something I don’t already know and can’t get anywhere else.

For the CXOs Only: The Product Marketing Challenge

Here’s one rapid, sure-fire way to evaluate the communication skills of your product marketing team. Invite your product marketers to participate in a departmental challenge, one person at a time. You can either have them prepare for this, or it can be a complete surprise. Pick a topic central to their work, one that your product marketers should know inside and out and have them present it back to you – or any audience. The twist? Shortly before they begin their presentation, pull the plug. Meaning = they can’t use anything electronic to tell their story. No slides, no demos, no computer, laptop, videos, tablet, or smartphone. Flipchart, whiteboard, sure. If you wish, this can be done virtually with a laptop and an electronic napkin – but no webinar-type slides. See how everybody does. Product marketers should be able to fluently talk to their audiences about everything pertinent to the business, without the aid of electronic presentation crutches. If they can’t pass the simple product marketing test of personal business communication, the rest is inconsequential. Get back to basics and get to work.

At least that #productmarketing test is one train wreck you’ll see coming.

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30 Items Per Second: What “Visionary” Executives Are Not Seeing on Live Video Apps

Tony Compton, Managing Director

Where is everybody?

This morning I decided to thumb through the available live streams on Periscope, Meerkat, and Blab. This evening I did the same. Some great content with enthusiastic hosts on all three apps, but why aren’t more companies creatively taking advantage of this new channel of live, interactive communication?

Not that I’m necessary complaining but again, where the heck is everybody?

One of my recents posts touched on the notion that digital marketers are unprepared to handle the talent and human performance-related issues which accompany any on-camera endeavor. It’s also apparent that a vast majority of executives must either be unaware of the opportunities presented to them by the new social media channel of video communication, or they’re struggling with how to embrace and take advantage of live streaming apps.

Because what I’m not seeing is a large amount of corporate participation.
A little, yes. But not much, and very little, to be precise.

By not offering live video content, here’s what many “visionary” executives
(and their companies) are not seeing:

  1. Real-time customer interactions with company experts.
  2. Protection of the customer base, and its revenue.
  3. Real-time interactions with buyers being moved through the pipeline.
  4. Their competitors’ angst.
  5. Exclusive, consistent, and reliable video programming.
  6. Rapidly built and highly desirable segmented audiences.
  7. Audiences which have come to rely on their video content.
  8. Worldwide company participation.
  9. Actionable marketing, sales, and customer service intelligence.
  10. Refreshed data.
  11. Expert utilization of a rapid go-to-market tool which outflanks dated competitor activity.
  12. On-going, and year-round programmatic efforts.
  13. Integration of a dynamic new social media channel into a rapidly changing marketplace.
  14. Ancillary sales, marketing, and service channels benefitting from live video content.
  15. Emerging talent, from long-dormant and hidden locations inside corporate walls.
  16. Corporate personalities acting as unique corporate differentiators.
  17. Business stories being told by human beings, live.
  18. Testimonials being told by customers, live.
  19. New revenue streams from sponsored video content.
  20. Cost savings of live, social customer interactions vs. the time and expense of meetings.
  21. Employees enjoying the most creative outlet they’ve witnessed in years.
  22. Employees enjoying the benefits of training, education, and coaching by their colleagues.
  23. Messaging, positioning, and value props breaking out of traditional forms of communication.
  24. Outdated sales and marketing programs being put to rest.
  25. Residual personal communication benefits accompanying streaming media performances.
  26. Their company producing live content, now watchable via Periscope on Apple TV.
  27. Programming which addresses business, life, and community activities, as they happen.
  28. The next wave of live, social and business interaction in the 21st century.
  29. Themselves, setting the standard and the pace for their company, its employees, and stakeholders, and the next wave of innovative executives.
  30. The future of customer experiences.

Fear, Want, and Competitiveness

For passionate, ingenious executives to understand the benefits and limitless opportunities presented by the usage of live video apps, all they’ll need to do is see the apps in action, and to see some great examples of its use. Simply stated, all they’ll need to do is turn on their mobile device televisions. My advice to all those creative content producers embedded deep within the organizational structure is to help those within the executive ranks view good video content on mobile apps. They’ll get the picture. (Pun intended.)

Once any forward-looking executive sees good video programming on the live apps:

  • Fear of not offering similar content will kick in and become a motivator.
  • Want of offering similar, if not better, live content will surface and become a motivator.
  • Competitive juices will pump throughout arteries and veins, and become a motivator.

The responsibility of budgeting and including live video app usage in the corporate go-to-market quiver will shift, and become shared by the executive team with marketing. The executive team will quickly realize: to compare, contrast, and then ignore the practical differences between outdated audience outreach methods and new, social, and real-time audience interactions via live video apps would be irresponsible. Ignoring the cost/benefit analysis of using live video apps would become nonsensical and incomprehensible.

+1, For a Total of 31

Here’s an additional observation about what executives aren’t seeing today due to their lack of corporate content on live video apps: the wide-open global playing field. I’ll argue that a (largely) untapped global audience awaits. The business audience, hungry, and searching for answers to their pressing problems is out there, right now, looking for help. They’re searching for answers across all industries, in all worldwide territories, and now migrating to the live video apps.

Fill the need, capture the audience, create memorable experiences, and surpass expectations.

Tell me the next time a strategic market opportunity like this will be there for the taking, just waiting for you – and me – to act.

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Stopping The Invasion of the Public Speaking Body Snatchers

Tony Compton, Managing Director

In the 1978 film Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Donald Sutherland’s San Francisco city health inspector character tries to fight off gelatinous botanical creatures from outer space. The alien creatures replace human beings with exact duplicates while people sleep, but the copies have no human emotion.

In the film:

  • Donald Sutherland’s character eventually loses his fight.
  • Leonard Nimoy’s character is not to be trusted.
  • Veronica Cartwright’s character may have lived to tell her story for another day,
    but I’d very impressed if she stayed awake for the last 37 years.

That leads me to only one conclusion.
The Invasion continues, and I’ve seen it.
But this is no movie.

Real-Life Evidence

I just watched a business video which featured an interview with an executive from a high-profile, well-known global company. When asked to introduce herself, the exec did so with an emotionless face and monotone voice. To complicate matters, she went on to say that she was “happy to be there” but didn’t smile. How could this be?
I understood the language, but her nonverbal communication was speaking louder than her voice. (This short story has been slightly altered to protect the innocent.)

Confused, I applied deep thought and further analysis to this dilemma.

As a producer and attendee of corporate events, trade shows, business conferences, and internal meetings for over 25 years, I’ve watched one too many deliver an emotionless, robotic presentation. I’ve also worked extensively in the broadcast industry, and I’ve seen and heard programming which has featured people who should’ve been telling emotion-filled stories, only to lose their vibrancy when they’re in front of a camera or confronted with a microphone.

The plot thickens.

The central question I keep asking myself is: “How could so many business people – human beings otherwise filled with emotion – take center stage and deliver expressionless performances?” After all, these are people who claim they care deeply about their products, services, and revenue performance, and hold their colleagues to very high standards, but they don’t seem to care about they way they come across on stage, during a webinar, or on a conference call? In a meeting room, or on video or audio? Even worse, there’s a prevailing attitude among bad communicators and their inner-circles that the way they deliver their material is more than professionally acceptable. Is that even possible? How can somebody care deeply about so many facets of corporate performance, but disregard how they and their company representatives look and sound in numerous channels of corporate communication?

It has to be The Invasion of the Public Speaking Body Snatchers.

Inexplicably, too many people transform moments before they have to deliver a performance.

Inform some people that they have to deliver a presentation, and they become almost unrecognizable with fear. Or overconfident with a nonchalant attitude. Place some people in front of a camera and they suddenly become robotic and lifeless. Sit some people in front of a microphone, ask them to converse, and they choke up and are unable to speak. As a producer of numerous forums I’ve often wondered where the spirits of some people go just before a performance, who has taken over their bodies, and why don’t they care that this happens to them and to many around them?

Lastly, why do so many in the audience commend presenters for substandard performances? Have they been compromised by The Invasion? It’s possible that they’re seeking to gain favor with the boss by telling him what he wants to hear, or avoiding a confrontation with an event sponsor-turned-presenter who has paid their way onto the stage. Either way, it’s very suspicious.

The Resistance, and Stopping The Invasion

The good news is that not everybody has been compromised by public speaking body-snatching aliens. More and more material has become available which details the significance of breakthrough business storytelling, and increasing numbers are starting to take notice. People are awake and alert to this trend in business communication. Employees (especially millennials) are no longer falling asleep on this aspect of their careers, and rightfully so. Those who possess the ability to tell engaging stories across numerous channels of interactive communication hold a distinct competitive advantage in the marketplace.

By definition, those who remain awake and tuned into the importance of delivering outstanding personal performances will not fall prey to The Invasion.

We’re now living in a dynamic, interactive, and social business world. Live video is storming the global marketing scene. Presentations, podcasts, interviews, and videos are now produced all the time, by everybody, everywhere. There’s no more hiding behind computer screens and monitors. The ability of a company’s public-facing team to step into the spotlight and tell great stories is having a measurable impact on branding, awareness, demand generation, and securing net-new closed business.
Tune out this revolutionary wave of business communication at your own risk.

For I now understand why so many presenters induce sleep during their talks, and why so many “yes” people remain emotionless, silent, and accepting throughout the tired process of acquiescing to mediocre performances. It’s all being done on purpose.

Just more evidence of The Invasion.

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Your Company’s Overlooked Fantasy Team, My Marketing All-Star Lineup

Tony Compton, Managing Partner

I’m blending two topics into this post because they go together. The first topic is the practice of overlooking talented people, and the second topic is creating exceptional employment experiences. My premise is that outstanding leaders have a gift for recognizing and encouraging talent when others do not. Moreover, extraordinary organizations establish company cultures which provide employment experiences
that tower above the competition. As a marketer, I viewed this material through a departmental lens.

Talent Resides Everywhere, But…

You’ve seen talent wasted. Employees who don’t fit in with the office clique are given the cold shoulder and written-off, while some individuals aren’t considered for new opportunities or advancement because of managerial ineptitude or shallow reasoning. It’s easy to discount talented people simply because of personality differences, educational backgrounds, career transitions, or any one of a number of lazy or biased reasons.

You’ve seen talent lost. Some companies have immediate business challenges, but take forever to employ talented people. Millennials seek meaningful career experiences,
but some companies will never offer a culture that adapts to the expectations of the younger generations. And internal staff can have knowledgeable views on solving enterprise-wide issues, but incompetent executives will never listen. In an improving job market, few will wait for a company to act or improve. Talent will be lost.

Are You Able to Recognize Talent?

You’ve heard of sports teams finding all-stars who didn’t fit in with previous organizations. Still, those players became winners within the culture of an outstanding system. The same can be applied to the corporate world off the field. Certain “players” came to mind when I imagined identifying talent for a high-performing marketing team. Others may have shunned or overlooked these players, but they’re all talented. Their versatility allows them to play a number of positions, and each holds the potential to contribute within an outstanding system.

Recognize any?

That 70’s Guy (or Woman)

Some don’t want to hear about life before smartphones, laptops, and the Internet,
but I’ve never had a pen and notepad crash. To those looking down their noses,
into their smartphones, and at those 1970’s men and women, you’re missing out on experienced, human conversations and valuable corporate contributions.

The Non-Techie

Marketing is not the exclusive home of those who only know SEO, SEM, and PPC. Digital skill sets should reside in a marketing support structure, but the technical aspect of the department is not the only priority. Give me a non-techie who is a great conversationalist, storyteller, and producer. We’ll figure out how to get content online and in social media channels in no time.

The Table for One

This person is The Expert. He may not follow sports. She’s not in the clique. They’re headphone-wearing, wired-in introverts who know everything about technology,
but sit alone in the kitchen. (If you saw The Internship, you’ll remember this person from that movie.) The “in” crowd doesn’t pay attention to this person, and most don’t extend a hand in friendship. Working relationships between The Tech Experts and
The Non-Techies are powerful. Make ‘em happen.

The Remote Employee

You may have remote employees who feel disconnected because they’re not based out of HQ, or sit in traffic for hours commuting. They may be unable to attend off-hour work functions because of distance or a home life. Give me a laptop, phone, Wi-Fi, and close proximity to an airport, and I’m good. Trust remote workers to produce, and communicate effectively as a virtual team. They’ll appreciate the work/life balance.

The Career Transitioner, or Job Hopper

A seasoned employee is transitioning into a new industry, a millennial may be seeking an opportunity with greater personal fulfillment, or somebody has held several short-term positions. Value resides in each. Blanket negative assumptions about these individuals are misguided, and many companies are prone to displaying modern-day hypocrisy. Job security is a distant memory, and unless you’re offering guaranteed contracts in Xanadu, engage and seek to understand those in the midst of career transitions.

The College Dropout

My profile includes two degrees, but that doesn’t make me any better (or worse) a person than the next guy. Success stories are filled with people from all walks of life who don’t possess a college diploma. Don’t judge, and don’t automatically rule these individuals as unqualified. You’ll miss out on a tremendous segment of the population.

The Gluer

This person can accomplish 1,002 tasks, and is the “glue” that holds things together on the job. When given a challenge, the Gluer gets the job done. Strangely, some find this talent confusing because no one job title accurately describes what the Gluer does.
In basketball terminology, there’s a reason why the “6th Man” (or Woman) is a valuable asset. All teams need a Gluer.

The Military Veteran

I’m aware of the challenges veterans face when they exit military duty, reenter civilian life, and seek employment. For many, it’s not easy. Anybody who has been in the service of the United States Armed Forces, or its Allies, deserves respect for their accomplishments, and recognition for the experience and talent they possess.
Vets always have a place on my team.

The Person Different from Your Mirrored Reflection.

US Employment Law states that no employer can discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, or disability. There are also provisions for political affiliations, sexual orientation, and marital status, among other considerations. The point here is not to debate written law, but to widen the scope of consideration. In every segment of society, you’ll find talented people who are passionate, experienced, and dedicated contributors.

The Employment Experience Millennials Seek

Writing this post began with the memory of a career question asked by a former boss.
I was asked what I really wanted to do in life. It was a great question.

The message was that no matter what I wanted to do, it could happen within the context of my current occupation and at my current employer. It felt as if my career goals were being respected, and my talents were being appreciated. Suddenly my work had greater significance to me, and to the company.

Millennials will appreciate that sentiment, but you don’t have to be one to understand the depth of its meaning.

And you should never settle for anything less.

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