Tag Archives: Marketing

An analysis of Trump’s inaugural address – a successful speech or not?

Can playing high status go over the top? Trump’s eagerly awaited speech had a number of technically good elements, but as a whole it was no stellar performance.

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During the last few years at Toastmasters, a global organization devoted to developing public speaking and leadership skills, I have evaluated dozens if not hundreds of speeches and given structured feedback to speakers. Hence, analyzing Trump’s inaugural address felt like the most natural thing to do.

The intriguing question was: Trump is an excellent speaker but also an exceptionally contradictory person – how would he do in his first speech as president?

While the speech had a number of technically good elements, as a whole it was a disappointment. Here’s why.

The goal of the speech

In the first place, the success or failure of a speech is related to its goal.

According to Trump’s advisers, the goal of the speech was to reach out and unite the country.

Everyone who Trump attacked during his campaign – that is, most Americans – listened to his speech very carefully. This was a unique opportunity for him to mend burned bridges.

Still he didn’t utter a single positive word about Hillary Clinton or her supporters, about women, latinos, muslims, immigrants, sexual minorities, the disabled, Democrats, Republicans, the media, the US intelligence community or the foreign allies of the US. Nor did he provide any positive message for those concerned about climate change or national security. The same applies to those angered by his habit of constant lying.

All these people were disappointed in Friday’s speech. Down the line, they’ll be ever harder to convince by anything Trump says.

Talking to a hostile audience is one of the most difficult situations a speaker might face.

Although most of the live audience were Trump supporters, the main audience of the speech consisted of all 320 million Americans, and secondarily, the rest of the world. Trump is supported by a minority of Americans and by an even smaller minority of non-Americans. In fact, slightly short of 20 percent (63 million people) of all Americans walked into a voting booth and voted for Trump.

A speaker facing a hostile audience often doesn’t even try to win it over because it’s a tough job. However, the newly elected leader of a nation needs to try to unite his country and to get at least some sympathy from his adversaries. It would help him tremendously in his work.

Yet it seems like the real goal of Trump’s speech was not reaching out and uniting the nation, but rather pleasing his established supporters and perhaps trying to rationalize his upcoming policies as president.

In humoring his supporters, Trump’s speech was probably successful. He repeated his tried and tested, simple campaign messages. The speech also fit well with his stated strategy of bypassing the political parties and the media and talking directly to his supporters instead.

In trying to rationalize his upcoming policies, the speech was a failure, however. The message didn’t hit home with a critical listener. It was simply too illogical and too far removed from reality. One needs to be pretty deep in Trump’s world in order to imagine having heard anything even close to watertight argumentation.

For hard-core Trump supporters, the argumentation may have worked. So, it’s really all about what the goal of the speech was. Unfortunately, that we don’t know.

Using high status

High and low status are terms used in the world of theater. High status refers to a person adopting a dominant position relative to those around him. High status can communicate for example self-confidence or arrogance. Trump’s performance on Friday – as his performances during the campaign trail – was pure high status.

Some expressions of high status we saw in the speech were a low tone of voice, slow and clearly articulated speech, a head barely moving, a severe and relatively expressionless face, mouth and lips pointing outwards as well as half-closed eyes and frowning.

In addition, we saw a relatively motionless body with only the arms making controlled gestures. Trump kept his hands far from his head. The palms of his hands would often be open, fingers apart from each other, with one finger occasionally pointing at the audience.

These status techniques are straight from the book and they are studied at theater schools.

Public speakers tend to use high status most of the time and this is normally recommended. However, when exaggerated, the audience’s experience may tilt towards the negative connotations of high status, rather than the positive ones.

All of this, accentuated by the frequently aggressive tone of voice and message, gives an impression of the speaker overly emphasizing himself and placing himself above other people. The style appears authoritarian, especially when the speech includes passages such as ”There should be no fear. We are protected, and we will always be protected.”

Here the speech starts to sound like the talk of an omnipotent father figure, who expects the audience to see themselves as his subjects. Oddly enough, the ”I will protect you” message is contradictory to the all-American ideals of individualism, individual initiative and freedom as well as the cherished right for individuals to bear arms.

The manner Trump dressed for his address matched his speaking style: a black suit and overcoat together with a red tie communicate power.

Structure and content of the speech

Structure

Trump told the audience that the country is in a terrible state, called out the culprits and told that the future is bright.

The structure of the speech was clear. Trump used simple words, lots of powerful slogans and almost every word he pronounced was easy to hear. The good old rule of three, i.e. reciting lists of three things, was also frequently used.

Trump made effective use of pauses and some parts of the speech included powerful verbal imagery. The speech ended with a strong “Let’s make America great again” sequence, which probably worked well with his supporters.

On the other hand, Trump’s use of voice and his body language, while not monotonous, were quite repetitive, like a train going at a steady speed. This occasionally reduced the effectiveness of the words he spoke.

For example: reading the transcript of Trump’s speech, there are actually plenty of mentions that seem to aim at uniting the nation. Trump talked about ”healing our divisions”, about solidarity, ”we must debate our disagreements honestly”, ”there is no room for prejudice”, and ”whether we are black or brown or white”.

Still, when watching the speech on video, those words somehow don’t stand out as unifiers of the divided nation. It didn’t sound like the words were emphasized in the sense of rebuilding burnt bridges.

Part of this impression is also because the presumably unifying words were mostly presented in a somewhat odd context of ”[opening one’s] heart to patriotism”, ”total allegiance”, loyalty and ”a new national pride [that] will … heal our divisions”.

Many listeners would ask whether gay Americans are invited to that new pride? How about the latinos, muslims etc.?

Content

This brings us to the content of the speech, which caused the speech to fail except for Trump’s existing supporters.

Trump’s description of the horrendous state of the country was largely false and understood as such by most listeners. The US economy, industry, employment, crime rates and the military are not in such a catastrophic shape as he claimed. Those statements alone would be enough to strip most public speakers from much of their credibility.

Trump also told who are to blame, i.e. who the enemies are: politicians and foreign countries. This includes foreign businesses and people, whether they are immigrants, employees of foreign companies abroad or terrorists.

This means Trump wanted the audience to believe that even as president, he himself is not a politician. That’s not credible.

It’s also interesting to note who was missing from the list of enemies: the rich.

An old quote comes to mind here: ”What you are speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say”.

The isolationist tone of the speech was detached from reality. No country can isolate itself from the world, not even North Korea. In addition, many of the toughest issues facing individual nations can only be attacked through international cooperation.

The speech made no mention of climate change, even though it’s a far bigger issue for the US than radical Islamic terrorism – the only issue Trump mentioned as meriting the kind of international cooperation that he otherwise spoke so strongly against. Since 2001, the US hasn’t seen any significant radical Islamic terrorism and there have been no signs of it increasing within the the country’s borders.

For other countries, Trump’s message was menacing.

The ”America First” slogan is strange, as it’s always been clear that the US primarily seeks its own interest – just like any country. Again, the message seemed to be targeted only at Trump supporters, not to the nation.

The lack of logic in the speech continues.

“January 20, 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again.” While Trump’s speech correctly used plenty of ”we” and ”you” instead of ”I”, one easily gets the impression that people might equal just one person. And if you look at the administration composed of millionaires, billionaires and family members, the notion of them representing the common man or woman becomes quite surreal in the listener’s mind.

Trump’s message of ”people” and ”a movement” can be understood from the fact that many of his supporters still feel that he honestly represents their interests.

So again, the message was apparently directed not at the nation but at Trump’s supporters.

Therefore, the big questions about this speech are: why did Trump not talk to his opposition? Was it only because he, as many public speakers, knows that it’s hard to convert those that disagree with you?

End note: a speech evaluator’s difficult task

It was no easy task to evaluate Trump’s inaugural speech, because I, like everybody else, already had an opinion about him. Yet, one should try to evaluate a speech from an objective viewpoint.

I have learned, both as a public speaker and as a speech evaluator, that each piece of feedback is only the point of view of a single person and therefore shouldn’t be taken too seriously. I have seen how even experienced evaluators give very different feedback on the same speech.

However, when honest and constructive feedback repeatedly generates similar comments to a speaker, then he or she can be quite confident that the feedback might be valid, whether it’s about one’s strengths as a speaker or about something one could try to improve.

Is your competition eating your lunch in social media?

A leading bank discovered it was losing customers to an aggressive competitor. The method was simple: whenever the competitor saw a customer complaining about the leading bank on Twitter, they invited him or her to change banks.

The tactic worked only too well to be ignored.

Higland straight kitten and Dalmatian puppy eating from a bowl

Image: istockphoto.com

The morale of the story: if you want to make the most of the web, you don’t just monitor what people say about you online. You need to take action based on what you learn from those discussions.

Furthermore, you are not limited to monitoring what people say about your company. Everything that you can monitor about your own company, you can also monitor about your competitors.

Therefore, it’s no wonder that most organizations, large and small, are now monitoring social media, and in fact not just social media but the web as a whole. There are literally hundreds of tools and services out there to offer you social media monitoring and analysis.

Accuracy of social media monitoring determines your success

In order for monitoring to be useful, though, the tools that we use must come with advanced analytics.

Imagine the following scenario. You want to measure brand sentiment on the web and categorize brand mentions into positive, negative or neutral. Easy, right?

You go ahead and try one of the free social media monitoring tools, for example  socialmention.com, and stumble upon the first problem – noise. Noise is for example if you’re measuring online mentions for Santander (a bank), but your monitoring tool includes mentions of the Spanish city of Santander in your results.

If your monitoring tool is not able to filter out the irrelevant content, imagine what happens to the reliability of your sentiment analysis. Garbage in, garbage out, as the old saying goes. So you’ll need a good filter that is able to stop the irrelevant stuff from contaminating your sentiment analysis – and your own professional reputation.

Check out the amount of noise that your monitoring tool will capture if you work for – or compete with – for example If (insurance), SAS (airline, software, military), or 3 (telco operator).

Enter text analytics and natural language processing

Having filtered out the noise, your tool needs to figure out which statements are positive, negative or neutral about your organization.

Are the words “high” or “low” positive or negative? There’s no way to know if you don’t know the context of the word. This is why your analytics tool needs some heavy duty text analytics as well as what they call natural language processing. You will want your analytics tool to be able to capture and understand not only individual words, but terms and phrases consisting of several words.

Your tool also needs to understand the structure of your language, or many languages, if you are an international company.

For example, if our bank’s customer writes about “a high interest rate”, we don’t know if he or she is happy or unhappy. Your analytics tool needs to figure out if the person is talking about his home loan or his bank account.

These are just some of the reasons why you’ll want your (social) media monitoring and analytics tool to come from someone who is strong in advanced analytics.

Accuracy of measurement is key, whether it’s about brand sentiment or other social media metrics. Without good accuracy, you can’t take any meaningful business action based on your monitoring.

Our bank under attack revisited

So what happened to our friends in the bank that was losing its customers to an aggressive competitor?

They started using a social media analytics tool that captured and analyzed customer complaints in real time. As a result, they are now able to contact dissatisfied customers immediately and prevent the competitor from stealing their customers.

Posted previously in BI Blogg, Norway’s leading business intelligence website http://biblogg.no/2012/06/15/is-your-competition-eating-your-lunch-in-social-media/   

The coming merger of database marketing and digital marketing

If you ask me, the ”mobile supercookie” deserves the prize for this week’s most innovative new marketing tech term.

That being said, I was more excited to read what the Verizon-AOL merger means in terms of ad targeting, according to the same article.

It seems like yet another example of a rising trend, namely traditional database marketing and digital marketing coming together. That’s a biggie.

So firstly, in the Verizon-AOL merger you have an ad network (AOL Advertising Network), tracking your browsing behavior with something called a third-party cookie. These cookies are handy as they allow good targeting of ads. When executed well, this is good for both the advertiser and the consumer as ads become more relevant.

However, third-party cookies are also relatively easy for the consumer to block. You just adjust your browser settings. Then you’ll get only those cookies that allow you to use internet banking, ecommerce sites etc.

The bigger weakness with third-party cookies is that they track an anonymous consumer. They know what you do on the web but they don’t know who you are. This has been pretty much the norm in web analytics and marketing.

Enter the Verizon ”mobile supercookie”.

Beginning next month, instead of just the ad network, there’s also your mobile carrier tracking your web browsing. This is powerful because now it’s about an identified customer.

In addition, the browsing data will be combined with data from Verizon’s customer database, for example address, age, gender, interests, location and app usage. This opens a whole new world of opportunities for targeted marketing messages.

But, Verizon-AOL is just one example of a trend.

The world of digital marketing and that of database marketing have traditionally lived pretty much apart from each other. They have mostly been practiced by different people with different mindsets.

Now we’re increasingly seeing customer data in a company’s customer database being merged with digital marketing data which so far has been mostly non-customer-specific.

This will be the norm rather than the exception in a not-so-distant future.

The Bridge that has a Loyalty Program

If you’ve watched the crime drama “The Bridge” on TV, you’ll be familiar with the bridge connecting the Danish capital Copenhagen and the Swedish city of Malmö.(* The CRM and email program of that bridge is surprisingly sophisticated.

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More than 20 000 cars cross the Öresund bridge between Denmark and Sweden daily. Most of the bridge users live close by, and about half of the trips are related to leisure travel, the other half being business.

The bridge has nearly 300 000 loyalty program members, carrying a device that allows them to pass the toll booth through a priority lane. This is only one of the benefits they receive.

Increased sales

If each loyalty program member crossed the bridge one additional time each month, the bridge company sales would increase by 60 million euros. Boosting traffic is the aim of the loyalty program. In other words, they want to increase the number of customers and increase their shopping frequency, like in any other loyalty program.

Each member gets profiled according to his or her behavior pattern for using the bridge, and their declared and observed interests for leisure time. Based on the profile, the customer gets personalized communication from the bridge company, whether it’s by email, contact center, website or the mobile app of the bridge.

Does your CRM program have these ten features?

Here’s some of the stuff the Öresund Bridge loyalty program does. Is there something on the list that you could apply in your program?

  1. Customer contacts are tailored based on the customer profile that is unique to each individual. The same message never goes to all customers.
  2. Customer segmentation is based on the customer’s actual and observed behavior – not just on what they claim to be interested in when asked in surveys.
  3. In marketing emails, each click on each link on every email gets registered for each individual customer. This data is stored in the customer analytics and dialogue database. For instance, the customer clicking a link about a golf tour offer is probably interested in golf and will see golf-related offers in the future as well.
  4. The profile -based offers are presented to customers in both outbound and inbound channels. The customer contacting the call center is informed about the current offers most relevant to him or her.
  5. Every email campaign is used for testing different versions of the message. This so-called A/B testing is done in all campaigns. Consequently, there’s continuous learning and improvement in campaign results. The open rate of the personalized emails is impressive, over 30%.
  6. Communications program based on customer life cycle stage. The bridge company takes the customer’s life cycle stage into account in each contact. The stages they use are: Generate =>Develop => Nursing => Winback.
  7. Most of the 1-to-1 messages going to the customers are sent automatically, based on triggers. Automatized communications result in huge savings by reducing manual work and by preventing errors that are typical when creating campaigns manually. The triggers are typically something that the customer did – or didn’t do.
  8. Email addresses that are no more in use (hard bounces) are actively updated by asking the customer to give his or her current email address at every opportunity in the other contact channels. An email address is not less valuable than a postal mail address.
  9. Prospects visiting the web site of the bridge get targeted display-advertising after their visit. Even though the visitor is not yet identified, he or she gets retargeted by behavior-based web ads.
  10. The bridge has a mobile app for their customers. With the app, you can plan your trip, and it also prompts you about current offers. The app can also be used to post the trip on social media.

 Does your loyalty program win the Öresund Bridge?

This loyalty program is a nice example of good use of customer analytics and marketing automation. If your CRM program does all the things listed above – congratulations! If the Bridge beats you, how about your competition then, are you able to beat them in the customer centricity game?

(*The American version of “The Bridge” TV series features a different bridge, namely the one connecting El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

Photo credit: Nikos Roussos, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

This is an English version of an article published in the Finnish DMA yearbook. 

Kesko dared, will S-group follow suit?

Finally!!

This fall Finland’s number two retailer Kesko began targeting their direct marketing based on their customers’ purchase history. Doesn’t sound too special, but that’s what it is. They became actually the first brick-and-mortar retailer to do it in this country.

Finnish retailers have been gathering their customers’ purchase data for years. However, from the customer’s point of view, this data has largely been left unused. From here onwards, the customer will hopefully see well executed personalized offers on products they like. In addition, there should be an improvement in customer experience, resulting from improved insight from analyzing the purchase data.

Kesko has thus embarked on a journey paved by Tesco in Britain some 20 years ago. Making use of customer analytics catapulted Tesco to the market leader position in Britain, made it the second largest retailer in the world, and helped it create a sizable ebusiness. According to former CEO Terry Leahy, productivity of Tesco’s marketing improved by 1000% because “offers could be tailored to what people actually wanted to buy”. Simple and smart.

The story of Tesco’s loyalty program can be read in this book that has already become a classic of sorts among marketers interested in customer insight. One of the key messages of the book is that in addition to marketing, actually everything that the company does is guided by the insight they get from customer data.

Finnish retail has finally entered the 1-to-1 marketing era. Kesko dared take the risk and face the criticism of those consumers who have privacy concerns about customer analytics. This sort of hesitation is probably hard to understand in many parts of the world but in this country it’s been the reality so far.

So, will Finns abandon shopping at Kesko stores as a protest? Of course not.

It’ll be interesting to see the response from S-group – the number one retailer – who’s expected to nominate its new CEO tomorrow. One of his key tasks will be to embrace ecommerce, something that Finnish retailers have so far left mostly to foreign competition. And this is starting to hurt.

Hence, this time the logical step for S-group would be to follow on Kesko’s footsteps, as it’s hard to imagine ecommerce without personalized marketing.