Browsing Tag


2011 In Review: Top Posts and Alike

2011 was a fantastic year for me on many levels and Spatially Relevant has been around officially for 4.5 years, so thanks to all who have been around here the past year and more.  This is technically the 5th year in review since the blog started in 2007.  So every year I try to spend time looking at posts which folks liked and those which I liked which may have not been part of the top posts with reader engagement.  So here they are:

Top 10 Posts of 2011

These posts are the posts which had the most views, comments and alike from y’all here.

  1. Roadmap Audit: This post is an audit of publicly available roadmaps which I could find online to identify common trends in the software space.
  2. Scrum and Marketing: Having implemented Scrum in development and marketing this post contains a solid presentation on using agile methods for marketing.
  3. Innovation, Change and Adoption in Markets: The Netflix moment, before the Quickster issue.  It also covers the 9X effect in category or product adoption with Google + as well.
  4. Innovation Myths: Presentation on Innovation.
  5. Key Technology Trends: Cisco overview on key trends driving changes for individuals and businesses alike.
  6. Mobile Technologies, Trends and Adoption:  I’ve been tracking mobile issues for several years and this is one of the continued pieces on adoption of mobile.
  7. SCRUM and Kanban: An overview for developing products, specifically social games leverage Agile methods/approaches.
  8. Product Quality: Deming’s approach to quality as it relates to process and sourcing for building products.
  9. Social Media, Opportunity Costs, ROI and Decision Making: Social media isn’t free and when looking at social media you need to understand the trade offs and investment required.
  10. Career Planning in Tech Marketing:  This is my presentation from PCamp ATL on looking at Product Management and Marketing career planning.

My Favorite Posts from 2011

These are the 5 articles which I personally liked and you might not have seen here at Spatially Relevant.

  1. The Marketing is in the Middle Series:  This is an interview series of marketing and product folks and the main link is actually a summary of all participants over the years.  2011 featured folks from various industries like Jay Baer, Elizabeth Quintanilla, Joshua Duncan, Jennifer Doctor, Christopher Cummings, John Peltier, Marty Thompson and others.
  2. Pricing Options Matter:  This is a piece which was inspired by a conversation with Steve Johnson on Angry Birds and their pricing approach.
  3. The White Coke Can:  This is a piece which looks at branding in context of not just the stories we tell as marketers, but how our customers perceive our products and the experiences they have.
  4. The Map of Marketing and Product Management in the US:  This is a fun little map I created from the location of product managers and marketers in the US.
  5. The Definition of Product Management:  This is a presentation I did and posted on slideshare which is a curated discussion of what is product management in a single word.

Many thank to the folks who helped make 2011 another good year for Spatially Relevant.  Happy new year and be safe, cheers!


Social Slow Down: Ambiguity and Process Inhibits the Benefits of Social Media for Over 1/2 of Tech Marketers

Engaging and understanding the market is a critical set of activities that many marketers are presenting the results of their 2011 efforts to their management teams for 2012 plan finalization.   The final end of the year push is always a fun time and finalizing your next year’s budget and plan are just some of the things we all have to do.  For many, social media may be on the list of things to invest in for 2012.  Whether it’s putting together a listening station, putting formal programs in place for funding or just extending the efforts already in place there are some key items for consideration around process.

This post will focus on the returns from a mini-survey we put into the market in November.  There were several interesting insights from this survey and you can see all the returns as Paul Young has released them over at Product Beautiful, but I thought I would start a discussion around social media policies and how they impact the responsiveness and benefits of social media for businesses and individuals alike.

Process for some is seen as a constraint, but based on the 100’s of folks I’ve spoke to over the last 3 or 4 years at conferences, inside businesses I’ve worked at and during seminars I’ve lead, social media is an area of interest and concern for many and the lack of process or over engineered processes represent some of the most common items highlighted as inhibitors to participation for many.

Process Drives Interaction and Willingness to Participate

For many, corporate policies and alike are seen as not so positive, but absence of policy and clarity can be equally negative on employees.  Folks like clarity and context and policies for many provide a path forward and encourages folks to take the next steps which many won’t take without guidance or rules of engagement.

From the November survey of social media usage, 25% responded that no formal policy exists and another 8% being unsure of a policy.  That’s a fairly unclear path for many and this for some may mean that many don’t know what to do online as it relates to their business and their products.  Without a policy which sets forth acceptable use, many folks will just opt out since without a policy any engagement could be seen as positive or also negative.

So here are the policy results from the November survey on social media:

Just as no process can be an inhibitor for some, review processes can  impact/limit the benefits of social media initiatives.  Reviews minimally takes out the “real-time” element and according to the survey results 19% of the respondents have such a step in their process.

While I understand the concept of a review and the comfort it can provide some businesses, it just might be counter productive.

Why is this?  Reviews can impact the effectiveness of a company’s social initiative since time and speed to publication is critical component to whether or not a post is ranked high by a given search engine or gains traction in a given social network.  So time is one key factor which a review potentially could impact.

The other item which for some might be an issue is the very review itself.   For some a review is just not something which they appreciate, desire or have time to work through.  Depending on how the review step is implemented a review could be an iterative process which requires additional effort which some folks just don’t have time or patience for.

If there is one thing we know from the Pragmatic Marketing annual survey, time is a scarce resource for most marketers.  So time and effort could be extended, but you may also miss out on putting an authentic voice into the market on topical issues with a review process.  If a post goes through a review processes there just might be a generic voice which is overlaid on the original content which may not be as impactful to readers or folks in the discussion. The voice of your employees  represents a clear opportunity to put a human face on a brand or company and if you are reviewing content to edit, censure or in general MARCOM the message.

Net-Net – Reviews, depending on how they are implemented, can effectively minimize the voice of your writers and potentially represents a missed opportunity just because of time it takes to review proposed content or responses online.

So while having a formal policy is critical for any corporate social media effort,  having a review policy can introduce a slow down and make you miss an opportunity in the market to learn, engage or assist folks in need of service.  It is also important to note, that much like no policy and policy of a review may discourage some to participate as well if additional effort is required.

No Policy Impacts Willingness to Engage

So reviews can impact participation, quality and timeliness of engagement much like no policy can.   Without a policy it becomes very unclear even in positive situations what an individual should do on behalf of their company.   Without a policy, no action is the preferred action for many and this issue has shown in the results of our November social media survey as well – with 18% of folks just ignoring even positive references for a given brand, company or product:

To reap the benefits of social in full, executives and businesses need to set forth a clearly understood policy which let’s everyone understand what is acceptable and what is not.   If a thoughtful policy is put in place, then a review process shouldn’t be necessary.   I’ve always told folks who worked for me – regardless of what you do online there are 3 things I think you need to remember:

1. The day you joined our company you signed all kinds of stuff – that is still in effect online (IP, Confidentiality, Product Plans, ect…)

2. Do good, be honest and be nice

3. Remember you only have your reputation and integrity

Most policies I’ve read basically cover these three items, but most do it in legalese and it takes 3-5 pages to cover these items which can be a little intimidating, but not as intimidating as ambiguity.  As I’ve noted, for some even a review process can be seen as a deterrent.

Full disclosure, if you are in a highly regulated industry such as Pharma or Financial Services then a review process may be legally necessary to ensure compliance and to mitigate any potential risk associated with online activities.    If this is the case, then I would challenge you to have content or scenario related triggers to minimize the review overhead.

The opportunity businesses have is to put all the resources which could benefit from social media engagement and content creation into the discussion and a policy is needed to get some of those folks off the fence.   Work with your leadership to get a formal social media policy as a priority in 2012 if you don’t have one.

There are plenty of policies online which you can scavenge from to start the discussion or to give legal a starting point.  Here is a pretty exhaustive list which includes all kinds of companies and entities from IBM, governmental agencies to non-profits:


Netflix: Promotional Activity Heats Up for the close of 2011

I’ve been checking my inbox the last week and it seems that Netflix is all about me buying a subscription for friends and family.  I can understand after the last year of activity and movement of their stock price they need to do something to prop up the value.

Dave Thomas, a reader here, submitted a guest post on the topic of Netflix.  So many thanks to Dave for the submission and here it it:

Will the Netflix Brand Ever Truly Recover?

When many marketing experts look back on 2011, they are likely to converse over some of the major successes and flops when it came to branding campaigns these last 12 months. By all accounts, it is likely that Netflix and a pair of its endeavors will be branded in the latter category.

While it is still a major player in the movie DVD market, Netflix and CEO Reed Hastings can only wonder what would have been had they not open the floodgates to a pair of disastrous public relations moves earlier this summer.

During a recent UBS Media conference in New York City, Hastings was open and to the point in discussing how the company with the famed red logo had essentially screwed up.


Netflix Was Feeling Pretty Good About Itself

According to Hastings, “We did so many difficult things this year that we got overconfident. Our big obsession for the year was streaming, the idea that ‘let’s not die with DVDs.'”

While Netflix did not die in 2011, it sure put itself in a pickle to say the least with a pair of bad moves, resulting in losing more than 1 million paying monthly customers in less than a month

Meantime, Netflix shares have dropped 74% over the past six months, something no company CEO or its investors for that matter want to hear. Looking at it from another vantage point, Netflix stock was soaring back in July at nearly $300 per share, while today it sits near the $70 mark.

First the company went public with its idea to charge separate fees for its DVDs-by-mail and streaming video plans. As if that were not bad enough in a challenging economy, the company then followed up with the negative announcement that it was going to rebrand its DVD service to be known as Qwikster. That in essence was strike two.


Two Strikes and You’re out?

With those first two strikes, Netflix soon saw customers taking to social media and other venues to express their outrage at the plans, leaving Hastings and other company officials to enter the spin zone, trying to paint a picture that the price hikes were needed, while the new service would be better for customers over time.

As Hastings would eventually come to admit, the company moved too quickly with its plans, not entirely thinking through the potential ramifications.

According to Hastings, streaming is the future, so he and others are not being out of touch when looking to devote the energy and resources to this area of the movie entertainment business. “In streaming, we’re a cable network from a rights standpoint Hastings remarked.” As such, one prediction is that Netflix’s streaming content licensing fees will jump from a mere $180 million in the last year to a sizeable $2 billion over the next 12 months.

What does this all mean for a company who stood by as companies like Hollywood Video and Blockbuster watched the curtains fall on their productions?

While Netflix moves forward and continues to be part of the online streaming and home DVD movie discussion, other competitors will continue to put pressure on Hastings and his mates.

Another slip up along the way could end up branding Netflix the latest Hollywood Video or Blockbuster; only time will tell.


Dave Thomas, who covers among other items how to start a small business extensively for