I was invited as an industry expert to present to Cal Poly’s Business College to illustrate how today’s marketing worked. During a presentation I called “layered marketing,” I showed how traditional channels, executed separately, resulted in a $40 cost per acquisition, using industry standard benchmarks. I then showed how, if you leveraged the strength of each channel orchestrated together in the proper media mix model that I had used for clients like Levis and Qualcomm, you could bring the cost per acquisition down to $1.41. The pursuant discussions led to me leading the charge to create an Integrated Marketing Minor that is impacted by too much demand from students. A great problem to have, which led to the further development of the MS degree in Analytics - a program that also exceeded demand expectations.
After a successful execution of marketing for Meru Networks, my contact moved on to Cisco and invited me to participate in the creation of Cisco’s first newsroom. Nothing like what we created had been done before - we created “look-alike” personas to serve up content based on real-time behavioral metrics. We coded a site that was highly optimized for search engines, and we laid out responsibilities for the company’s top executives to manage thought leadership channels that portrayed their personal visions for the future, curated content from all levels of staff, and illustrated the role that their team and their advancements played in improving the world. After launch, keynote speakers across the marketing industry held up the Cisco Newsroom as the high water mark to be achieved from all other enterprises.
Tom Adamski, CEO of Razorfish Global, a man I had the honor of working with every day for eight years, maintained that the presentation for Flip Video Live (bought by Cisco) was the best our agency had ever created. Originally, this was a pitch and job our agency wanted to pass on, not liking our chances. But a single designer and I collaborated on a pitch that beat eleven top agencies and won us the business in a single meeting. The inspiration for the idea was Flip’s “live” feature, which drove a storyline I developed to engage the room in what “live” really meant and why it was important to our customer. I timed the presentation so that by certain points in the slides I could point out that “by this time in our presentation, sixteen babies have been born,” and that “by this time, ten couples have gotten married,” or “five dogs have been adopted,” ended by, “and right now, Kid Rock is warming up for his concert in Detroit, Michigan.” I created interesting use cases for the product based on its simplicity, including a promotion to put Flip Video Live cameras in every gorilla exhibit in zoos to watch what they recorded, once trained on how to operate the big red button. We beat 11 top agencies, and won the business in our first meeting.
I was introduced by my previous client, Kara Jariwala, who ran the Cisco SEO team and the HP Innovation Lab, to Luke Hohmann. Luke was an early pioneer of agile development methodology, an entrepreneur who worked with CEOs to break open problem-solving with the gamification of boardroom brainstorming, and a figure skating champion. He came to me to help him rebrand his company, Innovation Games, into a modern brand called Conteneo. He also invited me to speak at his Innovation conference to talk about the future of UX in business, and how technology drove experience, which increased engagement and brand loyalty. After my talk I continued the conversation with attendees, including Mei Lin Fung who was on the US President’s research team for identifying innovations that would increase engagement in healthcare for returning veterans.
I was hired at Walt Disney Imagineering in one of my first jobs as a technical writer. My assigned specialty was documenting the build and maintenance of robotics (audioanimatronics). There were hundreds of parts, dozens of assemblies and sub-assemblies, and no way for maintenance staff to know what any one “figure” was supposed to do or look like when it was performing correctly. I saw a way to make the maintenance person’s job easier, and my own job less taxing, by leveraging the tools at my disposal. I created a spreadsheet of robotics parts and documented each figure while it was being built by recording the line number and quantity of the part. I connected my spreadsheet to Word’s mail merge function that I then imported into FrameMaker to generate a preformatted parts list with hyperlinks that contained ordering information. I also digitally video-captured what any individual audioanimatronic was supposed to look like when functioning properly. The resulting interactive CD-ROM manual enabled maintenance people to view a video of what a fully-functioning figure should look like, click on the video to zoom in on an engineering drawing, zoom in again to a subassembly, click on parts to add to an order, and order the required parts through the internet (which at the time existed without any browsers). I was one of two Imagineers invited to present personally to Michael Eisner at the annual R&D conference, as a result.
While working with the Hewlett Packard Innovation Lab, I brainstormed a way to both modernize their trade show and fulfill the brand of “Invent” by creating a rapid prototype of an augmented reality mobile application that created an overlay of what the products of today enabled as advances in the year 2019 - the end of their seven-year strategic plan. You walk through the trade show and point your phone at a meeting hall and you see, in a museum-like story, what today’s product development has enabled in terms of products and services in “today’s” world in 2019.
Sometimes, you have to break the traditional business development processes when you work for an agency. Having never been a salesperson, I decided that the best way to solicit more business would be to get my prospects together in a room to discuss what their challenges were, and then to be there to proactively recommend solutions. In this way, we would position ourselves as thought leaders and the “smart people in the room” that they wanted to work with. It worked. I had fifteen different companies at my first dinner meeting in San Jose, including NetApp, McAfee, Apple, Marvell, Xilinx, Webex and other industry leaders in the Silicon Valley. Successive “Marketing Innovation Series” meetings drew fifty attendees and the participation of Forrester analysts I invited to cover the issues we discussed on expert panels that I moderated.
When I was leading Strategy at LEVEL Studios, my account team was servicing McAfee for campaign and website development. They asked me to get involved to introduced more strategy to the relationship, so I accompanied the team on a visit. Our client contact gave us a tour of the facility, including the new Executive Briefing Center that was in development. During our conversations, we discovered that they were looking for a way to engage executives from around the world. As a result of my experience helping to design and build international properties at Disney, I brought up the idea that the natural world connected us all, and was far more important to represent in other cultures. I brought up the idea of translating McAfee threats being discovered every few seconds into red sand, and McAfee’s solutions to these threats as blue sand. Then, metering a glass exhibit in the Briefing Room, to pour red sand and blue sand into the exhibit at the corresponding rates, giving a real-world, natural context to the digital warfare McAfee was participating in.
One of my earliest product development stories, and one I am proudest of, occurred under the guidance of my mentor, Rick Fishel. We collaborated on identifying a new name for a new product that would connect to recovering cardiac patients in hospitals and transmit their vital signs and locations to a central nurse’s station. Instead of continuing along the line of “Escort” product names, we decided to get into the heads of nurses and find out what made them proud. We found that they considered themselves “guardian angels” for their patients, which led to us naming the product “Guardian.” I quickly designed a hand-sketched illustration of an angel with crossed arms observing things below, and manufactured gold pins to give out at an upcoming trade show. The pins were gone in hours as nurses from all around California snatched them up and proudly wore them, gaining our company huge visibility both at the show and in their day-to-day lives (since they never took their pins off out of pride).
By 2020, customers won’t separate products and the service that comes with it. Knowing this, I’ve worked with multiple companies, including Meathead Movers, to ensure that the promise made at the brand marketing level is fulfilled when a prospect becomes a customer. I have created inbound link metrics and information that are passed to the CSR (Customer Service Representative) teams that capture the disposition of the inbound contact, attributing revenue and NPS (Net Promoter Score) to let the CSR know how to treat the customer, and how valuable they are. Outcomes are reflected in upsells, resells, retention and resurrection numbers, funneling customers into the right automated campaigns to create the greatest Customer Lifetime Value possible.
Memorex had the problem of too many people calling its call center for support across eight global websites. This was costing them a lot of money for low-cost consumables. We found that a lot of their problem was the information presented on their website, so we redeveloped their website in eight different languages and introduced a technology to capture every page the visitor went to, and if they went to Support, to use their browsing history to do a real-time Google search on the site and surface the most relevant and best-rated Support FAQs and articles. This “predictive” support decreased Memorex support calls by seventy percent and cost them next to nothing to implement.
For three years I ran the email marketing of Princess Cruises. We produced up to five different emails every week (one every twenty-four hours) to be mailed to up to two million recipients. We produced great results, but I had partnered with a company called Dynamics Direct that enabled us to create highly personalized multimedia messages. We hired a voiceover actor to record the text of the email, as well as eight thousand first names. We then dropped the data into a database and constructed every email on-the-fly based on the recipient and their personal preferences. A Flash video was dynamically created for each individual recipient, speaking their name and showing a video of the destinations they were considering, resulting in four-times the booking rate for our personalized email versus a blind test against the standard HTML email.
In the time that I was at Web Associates, we rebranded as LEVEL Studios and grew by 300%. This attracted a bidding war to acquire us which was won by Rosetta. To position our new strategic partnership, I utilized our relationship with Forrester to announce a “new” kind of agency in order to get them to write a Wave report and position us as a leader in our field. After researching what CEOs across enterprises saw as their challenges and opportunities (what I later standardized as “5-50 research), we surfaced that the industry was looking for “customer engagement” (before it was a thing). We coined the term “customer engagement agency,” defined what that meant, and pitched Forrester, garnering the top position (because we created the category). Once again, sales boomed, and Rosetta was soon written up in Ad Age and acquired by Publicis.
San Luis Obispo was found to be the “Happiest City in North America” by Dan Buettner of National Geographic who traveled the world searching for the best places to live and raise a family. In fact, I’m mentioned in his book “Thrive.” So when the city of San Luis Obispo came to me to define their brand and attract more “heads in beds,” for its hoteliers, I had to come up with something to draw even more attention to a place that Oprah Winfrey regularly gushed about. I came up with a video contest to apply for the job of SLO’s Social Ambassador, which ended up generating 65 million impressions across social networks. This success led to the recruitment of a “Street Team” of social influencers who carried on the momentum built by the video contest. The resulting halo effect of video voting and social sharing resulted in year-over-year room sales growth of 12% every year I was involved in the city’s strategy.
Prior to being bought by Office Depot, I spent two years running the messaging strategies for Viking Office Products. During that time, we created a way to match individual buying history and content affinities on the website to progressively profile Viking customers. We then sent emails to each customer based on what they showed interest in, moving the top things on their minds to the top of the message, and putting related products in the sidebar. At the time, Viking’s business model relied heavily on sending physical product catalogs to their customers. But after the success of our personalized “catalogs,” Viking stopped printing catalogs and relied, instead, entirely on its emails for business.