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To speak to a representative… Software companies have a visceral antipathy to providing customer support. The myth of infinitely scalable profits demands that customers buy with the minimum of sales support and continue paying with no ongoing support. Beyond the profit motive, there’s a belief that well-designed, well-tested products should require no support, beyond periodic software updates. The need for customer support is considered a symptom of unnecessary friction in the user experience. As frequently happens, the tail has come to wag the dog. Avenues for customer feedback are ruthlessly eliminated. Then the absence of customer complaint is treated as evidence that the product is totally self-supporting. Google has raised this kind of dog-wagging to an art form. Just try contacting Google. Application to Marketing: Technology offers a solution to many intractable problems. But human beings remain frustratingly human — subject to human confusions and human misunderstandings. In marketing, we love to “test.” We test communications. We A/B test websites. We user test. We want consumer feedback up until the moment when the product goes to market. Then, in imitation of software companies, we try to eliminate the customer support that would alert us to user or product issues. People need people. Next Steps: Stop looking at customer support as a cost center and start looking at it as a testing platform. We are all “always in beta.” But beta is a test. Read More Signs of Life in Adtech Advertising technology has taken a beating since venture capital started drying up last year. That’s probably a good thing. Most of the adtech “ideas” floating around post-recession were just a thin dashboard thrown over the Facebook and Twitter API’s. But Marketo has always been an exception. Here was a company that added genuine value to marketing efforts by tracking and tying together disparate efforts. Marketo recently agreed to be purchased by Vista Equity Partners, a private equity firm in San Francisco for $1.79 billion. Application to Marketing: Technology has a lot to offer marketing. But we need much more technological literacy in the industry to separate the useful technologies from the figments of hype. Next Steps: It’s always worthwhile to look at Marketo or Eloqua and assess if they would help your business or your client’s business. Read More Whither Magic Leap? Florida-based augmented reality company Magic Leap doesn’t want you to know what they’re up to. But whatever it is, the top names in technology funding have been throwing vast amounts money at this company after brief demos at Magic Leap’s corporate HQ. Clearly, they’ve got something unique, but non-disclosure agreements signed in unicorn blood have so far protected the company from leaks. I asked one friend who I have reason to believe saw the demo about the company. He made the sign of the cross, sprinkled holy water in a circle and then denied that Magic Leap even exists. (I may be exaggerating slightly.) Now the departure of a few employees has opened a window into the company’s activities. The company sued the former employees claiming that they possessed proprietary knowledge about deep-learning for robotics. What does deep-learning for robotics have to do with an AR headset? I have no idea. Application to Marketing: Virtual reality is all the rage in marketing right now. But augmented reality is much more likely to gain widespread adoption. Augmented reality allows for a digital layer superimposed on the physical layer and has none of VR’s nausea problems. Next Steps: If I were working for a large agency or working in marketing for a large company, I would ask to see this demo. Just bring your own unicorn blood for the NDA. Read More Instagram Ads Brands love Instagram. All the reach of Facebook in a pure-play image based social network without all the fees that Facebook charges to promote your posts. That’s not going to last. Instagram punted the monetization issue in its early years, but the bills are coming due and Facebook (which purchased Instagram) wants to make money on their investment. Application to Marketing: So what’s going to happen? Exactly what happened on Facebook. Instagram has been making moves to establish distinct accounts for businesses and to prioritize different posts in your feed. It’s only a matter of time before brands have to pay to get their posts featured. Remember about five years ago when people told you social marketing was going to be free? Yeah, well, nothing’s free. Nothing. Next Steps: All you can do is play by the rules. Establish your business account. Trust me, they’ll catch you if you try to cheat the system. Read More

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