Peter: Hello and welcome to episode 3 of the Corporate Digital Marketing Podcast I’m your host Peter Applebaum and we have in store quite an interesting conversation with Joe Millward from 3M. He also has one of the most interesting and varied digital backgrounds of anyone that I’ve met in the digital space, and the conversation we had was far-reaching. And, the challenge he has at 3M is that they have roughly 28 to 30 divisions of some of the most incredible types of products. Everyone know 3M primarily for post-it notes and consumer-oriented brands, but they’re in a lot of industrial and healthcare areas as well which many people would not have heard of.
Like for example when you cross the road invariably you’re crossing on 3M line markings on the road, when you scan your passport when you’re coming out of the airport that’s invariably going to be a 3M piece of technology. So, they’re a fantastic company with a huge heritage, but obviously like a lot of established older companies they have their challenges when it comes to and adapting to the new digital world. So, Joe is brilliantly placed to give us his insights, and I think you will find this a fascinating discussion so here is Joe.
Peter: I would like to welcome Joe Millward who’s got some fantastic titles on LinkedIn and I’ll put a link to his profile on the show notes. But, he is the Senior Digital Strategist and Augmented Reality Architect at 3M, but he also has some excellent experience in other organisations. He’s also the founder of Start-up and Lifeable if that’s the same thing I am sure you will correct me Joe. But, I’d like to welcome Joe.
Joe: Thanks for having me, Peter.
Peter: A pleasure. Now I really wanted to speak to Joe, and, full transparency 3M is one of our clients for Tick Yes, but I was interested by what he does currently, but also what he’s done previously. He’s one of the most experienced corporate digital marketers that I’ve ever met so I really wanted to have him on the podcast because I think he can give a lot of insights to people who have challenges within larger organisations and are looking at the many opportunities that corporates have. So, in a nutshell, Joe what is your role at 3M and broadly in the digital community?
Joe: Well, I guess my passion and something that I have taken into 3M is understanding technology intimately, but then being able to apply them to the corporate environment, the enterprise environment. I think a lot of people are dazzled by the latest and greatest technology, but then they struggle to see how they apply that to business, and then be able to get the budget for the buy-in from senior management to actually be able to investment and start to explore these technologies.
Peter: So, what are the sorts of strategies you’ve employed in your current role and previous roles in order to achieve that?
Joe: I think the biggest thing I’ve started to realise is that financially most businesses want to see a return on the investment. And, return on investment isn’t necessarily purely revenue, it could be increasing efficiency and expanse of the brand or a new opportunity for business. So, you really got to actually understand the business itself intimately to then be able to work out what the pain points are of the business or what the opportunities are or where you can actually sort of apply this technology. And, it may be the bottom line, or it may be top line revenue, but then it also may have been efficiency that was lacking in the business at the moment.
Peter: One of the questions, I’m going to ask you at the end of our talk is where do you see digital marketing in five years’ time, so you can put that in your subconscious while we’re having a bit of a chat. But, where do you see yourself the Joe Millward from five years ago and obviously, you’ve been in several positions since then. But, what is your thinking, what does your experience tell you that you are that I guess direct you in ways that what you’re doing now compared to what you were doing five years ago?
Joe: I think now I’m thinking truly strategically, previously it was constantly the latest and greatest trying to find how I could use tools and doing things very tactically for a great outcome and great return. But, then we were always scrambling, and it felt like a lot of times I was chasing my own tail to try and make sure we got things done, or things were executed to that level. I guess now I’m starting to take that back where I’m looking at how does this affect the business in the next five years as you’ve already mentioned, or how can I increase the knowledge of my colleagues as well instead of me trying to take that mantle and do everything myself. I want to try and empower other people to understand this technology a bit more intimately and hear their ideas. A lot of times if you are really close to the latest and greatest technology you have a particular view where you give it to somebody who’s completely alien to a particular technology they come up with really novel ideas, so I really like that ability to empower others.
Peter: It’s interesting you say that when we are talking about a team because we spoke last week to Jodie Sangster who is the CEO of ADMA and she said that leaders really should have almost like a superficial knowledge of everything regarding digital. But, then employ or work with people who have a deep understanding of something specific, be it augmented reality or mobile marketing or email marketing. Do you subscribe to that way of thinking?
Joe: Yeah definitely I mean that’s where I sort of see myself is that person who’s able to gather all that diverse information and spread it across a business. And, we do have specific people who are specialists inside 3M and who maybe focus on email marketing or social media or particular areas. And, I gave up trying to understand the flurry of information, so say social media that’s changed so dramatically in the last five years that I have a broad understanding and I’m able to then work with the social media specialist, and they can talk in the same language that I can. But, then they can then take it to the next level and start to actually find the nuances in that particular technology.
Peter: So, the impression I’m getting from even just a short while we’ve been talking is that you feel that strategy, digital strategy underpins everything and everything and obviously, all the tactics stem from there. Would you agree?
Joe: Totally agree I think the big part of it is and this is probably something that I somewhat of a bugbear is it’s not digital anymore it’s just marketing its just understanding marketing and sales. But, that’s where I think there still is this hesitancy of businesses to jump into digital or whatever, realistically in our lives today everything we touch is digital. I find it ironic where people say we don’t need to be on social media as a business and then they’ll jump onto Facebook the minute that there outside of work and talk to their friends. So, it’s almost that thing where you’ve got to stop separating the two and just start talking about sales and marketing and being executed by digital platforms.
Peter: Which is easier said than done because often you’ve older people at the top of corporate organisations who are saying look we don’t want to be on social media because things people could say or if they say this or if they do that. And, I always say that but they’re saying and doing that anyway, the only difference is you’re not there to respond to it.
Joe: Totally agree. When I was working at Snowy Hydro, we had a CEO who didn’t have a smartphone, didn’t understand why he needed to be on Twitter. But, I was then able to show him the value of us being involved in Twitter because we could directly speak to the MPs and then we were also tracking information about the community as well via social media, so we were getting a snapshot and an understanding in real time about the needs of the community. And, once I could show that and articulate that to him I mean he would never tweet himself, but he started to understand the value, oh I can communicate with my MP, I can speak to the community directly. So, it’s just taking it I think the whole age thing is a complete farce realistically, it’s the way that the younger generations need to start to apply this in a business way and then articulate that to the business managers. That’s the way you’re going to jump that gap, you’re never going to explain the benefits of Snapchat to a C-level, but you can say look this is the way we can engage with this demographic and have this outcome, that’s the way you start talking about it.
Peter: And, do you find that the C-suite are very much interested in following up, because once they’ve made the decision do they come back to you in X months’ time and say, okay Joe we’ve said yes, we’ve given you a chunk of change what’s the net result of the resource investment that we’ve made in this project and program and the trust we gave you to deliver outcomes. Are they quite rigorous in being able to understand what the return to the organisation is?
Joe: I do think it depends on the organisation I have seen a lot of them just throw money at things and think okay we’ve done social media and think it’s not something that they need to follow up on. I tip it on its head and say it’s the responsibility of the person that accepted the budget or they’ve gone ahead with the project to give those updates and to articulate what the successes are. Because the only way you are going to legitimise the technology is by being the person to show the business benefits. So, for virtual and augmented reality, for example, I’m showing, I’m building business cases, I’m showing them what we’re doing with the technology now, what we’re going to do with the technology in the next 5 years. So, I’ve got a true map you know a strategic business plan on how we’re going to get move forward with this and additional revenue that we can see out of the back of it.
Peter: It’s funny you’ve mentioned technology on a regular occasion in the time we’ve been speaking, and it makes sense because obviously digital is powered by technology but then again so is a television and a radio etcetera. But, that aside I think that one of the biggest I guess challenges that a lot of marketers have who are not expert in this area they think, oh I’m a technophobe I don’t know how to turn on a computer which is ironic because obviously, they spend all their lives as you say outside of work on their smart phones or their tablets or their PCs. But, it’s like I don’t get technology, do you find that that’s something that’s often a problem with people who you are trying to convince that they should be doing these types of things?
Joe: Definitely yeah and I think if you’ve got someone who’s got the confidence to be able to explain to them this stuff isn’t that hard and realistically it’s not. It’s not brain surgery; you’re not building these things yourself most of the time, all you’re doing is plugging in your information into these new portals really. And, if you can start to simplify and dumb it down and give them an understanding. And, that’s what I find my job, is my job is to make these simple to digest. If I can teach my father how to become a host on Airbnb and then travel around the world utilising these sharing tools I can do it for anyone. So, there’s no reason, and there’s no age bracket I think that it falls into its just confidence. So, if you can articulate the benefits to them, making their job easier, being more efficient with their campaign, but then give them really simple ways of starting the process, I think that’s the critical element.
Peter: So, let’s say that I am a brand manager and I’m listening to you chat about this, and I’m working in a conservative organisation. And, the senior management have said this digital thing’s for the birds we’re going to be sticking to what we’ve been doing traditionally for years and years because if it isn’t broke why fix it. What advice would you give to them, what are the steps they should take in the next 90 days to be able to empower or to convince and persuade the powers that be to say well let’s do this because quite frankly it’s not something that’s a nice to do, it’s a need to do, we must do it. What advice would you give them?
Joe: The first thing is to research, and it may be, and this is where it takes passionate people to be able to produce change I think inside an organisation. But, you’ve got to be passionate, it’s not something your work is going to pay you to do. You know listen to podcast such as these but podcasts are my preference. I listen to 5 to 6 podcasts a week to learn about the latest and greatest things that are happening. Research new websites, but more importantly look at your competitors and see what they’re doing. If you’re able to show to a business manager that their number one competitor has increased their revenue or reduced their overheads, able to articulate more fixes of the business or customise something for a particular customer, and it’s impacting directly the business that they’re in that’s when you’ll get them to start to sit up and take notice. And, then from that build out a small pilot program, just do something small with a definite end date as well as a measurement criteria, so a smart goal or whatever you want to call it. So, you can sit there and articulate what you’re trying to do, how long it’s going to take you to do it, what’s it going to cost to do and what are the outcomes you hope to have out of the back of it. If you can be really concise about what you want to try and deliver they’ll give you enough rope to hang yourself, I believe.
Peter: And, hopefully, you won’t hang yourself.
Peter: You’ll be swinging from the rafters. I notice that we talked about LinkedIn a little early and you’ve a fantastic profile, and you were giving me some tips before we started recording about how you should from a search engine optimisation uses your title. I noticed you’ve got almost 2,500 followers which is an incredible number, particularly in an Australian context. It astounds me and sometimes you might have the same experience Joe, but it astounds me when sometimes I’m speaking to people with a digital role in and organisation and they don’t even have a LinkedIn profile. Do you find that?
Joe: I do it’s rarer now, traditional marketers may not have one, and realistically that term traditional marketer must start to migrate out of our vernacular. Realistically I don’t think in the next five years if you don’t understand digital intimately you will not have a role in marketing, I don’t see it happening that you’d be able to be a specialist in paid print or more traditional factors. You’ve at least got to understand how your methodology is going to affect the digital platform.
Peter: I think there was blood chilling all over Australia as people were listening to that point. If you don’t understand Digital in five years’ time you won’t have a role in marketing. That’s a bit alarmist don’t you think?
Joe: I just think its realist, I mean you look at the change that’s happened in the last five years. It’s been such a rapid rise, who’d have thought the US election would be decided by Twitter. And, this is the thing you’ve got to take a realistic look at; we’re at the very early stages of this acceleration into digital. As we start to move from smartphones to heads up eyewear to artificial intelligence controlling how we run our lives and looking at voice search or voice activation and smart things. I think we’re just slowly going to see a shift in display advertising and brand is going to have to rethink how it’s representing itself in a world where paper will slowly disappear, and even billboards will slowly disappear, or they will become digital.
Peter: You think so? I remember people predicting when television came out that the movies would die and when computers came out there’d be a paperless office. I don’t know I’m not sure I necessarily agree with you but that’s okay I guess time will tell time will tell. So, when we first chatted, when we first met you mentioned that you’d worked for Gloria Jeans some years ago and you’d had an incredible workload, I’m still tired thinking about how much you did in one year. Can you just to tell us a little about that?
Joe: It was interesting working at Gloria Jeans, and they didn’t really have an approach to digital with over 1,000 stores across the world and pretty much everyone working independently. We had something like over 200 Facebook pages and we had 20 websites that weren’t even on brand, or they were different across the world, and part of my remit when I came on board was to try and massage that into a uniform approach. And, it was a challenge I mean we did a lot of work in 12 months, but I guess the big part I had was trust from my management, and they got out of the way. I think that’s important, if you want to make rapid change you’ve to hire experts and then allow them to work at a pace that they’re used to and let them have that autonomy and make those decisions. If you can do that in an enterprise environment, then you will see huge amounts of benefit. So, working like a start-up inside an enterprise can add huge benefit if you’ve got that ability to do that.
Peter: But, as you say you need the buy-in of the organisation. If again someone who’s listening who’s just been put into a digital role and they don’t have terribly much experience but they’re smart, and they’ve got all the passion for it. What would you suggest, what’s the way that people can get up to speed with I guess getting experience with digital when they don’t have that much? Because I know that some of the common threads in a lot of people I speak to is that there’s an absolute skill shortage out there.
Joe: Yeah, I totally agree. I think going to events is critically important and connecting with people with more seniority or that have more experience and it can be work events or conferences, or it could just be after-hours there’s a stack of meet ups across a broad range of digital tools and digital approaches. So, everything from social media right through to virtual augmented reality, through to the mobile development so you can just jump on there and find those meet ups. And, that’s where you’ll see the true stars and the people that are going to succeed are the ones that do that extracurricular, they’re going through and doing their research after hours or meeting up with someone that they might admire. And, for me I’m happy to do that, I’m happy to pass on that information because if I can enrich another person’s knowledge and be able to help them in some ways, it always tends to come back. But, then it also raises the bar for everybody else, so I don’t come into an organisation and find that we’re still back in 2010 or what have you.
Peter: So, you’ve had several roles in the digital space over the years and obviously been a keen student and observer of what happens in the digital space. What are some case studies and what are some organisations and brands that are doing it well and why?
Joe: I think there’s quite a lot of them coming out of the US and I think it is because they’re starting to take that mentality of that start-up environment. And, I mean by far my favourite is Starbucks, and that’s just because that comes from the top down, so their CEO is passionate about technology, understands the benefits, they were the first to do these things with mobile purchasing and really embracing those next steps. Some of the other great companies I mean Lows which is like Bunnings over in the US do some fantastic stuff they added robots into their stores, because they’re seeing that we’re moving into that space where we’re going to have this automation happen within the next couple of years. So, they’re starting to experiment already to be able to personalise on scale.
And, I think that’s a big part that people will have to realise in the next five years you’re going to expect that you have a personal shopping experience that’s completely attached to everything about your personality and your profile in any store you walk into. So, I think that’s the goal, it’s been a lofty goal and Omnichannel is one of those words that’s trotted out, and I still believe that it’s a bit of a fantasy now. But, I think giving the next couple of years with the rise of artificial intelligence and the availability of big data, but now there’s lots of big data that I sense is getting siloed. But, if we’ve got artificial intelligence a machine learning that’s able to applied to that big data is when we start getting insights that can be added to valuable outcomes for customers.
Peter: One comment you just made: personalise on scale. What an incredible ideal and that’s where again and even in the few episodes we have already recorded that is a bit of a recurring theme. We’re looking to have this customer centricity and to be able to, as I often say it’s have a market of 1 time a million as opposed to the traditional way which is a million times one. And, I think that really encapsulates what we’re trying to do, so if you’ve a million customers try to create a million different experiences and obviously use technology, big data, automation to try and achieve that. Could you expand a little more on that?
Joe: Well, I think the example now is Alexa from Amazon, I’ve got Google home and Alexa at home that I test at the moment but if you’re a US shopper you’re able to basically ask for a product. And, of course Amazon has got a wealth of data especially if you’re a long-term customer they’re able to understand what you’re buying habit and what your maximum and minimum to buy for each product. So, if you want to buy toilet paper it understands okay you want something that’s three-ply, you want it to be recycled, you want X, Y and Z. So, it will make the determination and what brand and what volume you need without you having to articulate that.
So, that’s where we’re starting to move into the point where the customer is more of the request of their artificial intelligence to then go out there and make the brand determination, to make the product determination, the price that they want to buy something for. So, we’re seeing a shift where people will make general requests and the AI will pick up and understand the specificity because it has the information and it has the data already. We don’t have to do say, I need to have Kleenex toilet paper that’s a 10 pack and I need it to be the recycled version whatever. So, we don’t have to say that, we just say I need more toilet paper, and the artificial intelligence will then pick up that and personalise your purchase based on your history.
Peter: One of the things we spoke about before was the challenges incorporates and getting buy-in from senior management. I think one of the other challenges, particularly with the rapid development of all the new initiatives and the new technical opportunities we’re talking about, is that a lot of senior management and even those in the digital marketing roles are looking at what they have achieved already in the organisation. And, all these exciting new developments that are happening and they’re saying, well we haven’t really done social very well, we haven’t done email marketing and content etcetera etcetera. So, we don’t exactly have a solid foundation, but management all have gone to a conference and seen artificial intelligence, and virtual reality and all these sorts of things and they want to do that. What would you say to people in that situation where someone’s got all hot and bothered about something that’s in the future, but there’s not a great foundation that has been put in place already?
Joe: Foundation is a perfect word you don’t put a beautiful facade on your house if you’ve got a rotten and sinking foundation. I think looking at fundamentals your data stack at the end of the day if you don’t understand your data intimately you’re building on quicksand basically. So, if you want to look at say augmented reality shopping for a FMCG for example if your website can’t be nimble enough to serve that information out in pieces for an artificial augmented reality headset then you’re not able to do that, you’re not going to be serviced right. So, you’ve really got to understand how is our data organised, how are the warehouse, are we able to spin up a new version of a website in a quick amount of time.
So, I think you’ve critically got to go back to your content, your product information all that mundane and boring stuff, is that in the right format for AI to be able to read it. So, is it in a machine learning technology that can read that. Is it all common do we have common attributes that we can then serve up correct information as we start to move forward. At the end of the day, people cheer that they’ve got a mobile website or that they’ve got an app that they’ve built, but realistically if their data in the backend is still all over the place they are just putting shiny stuff on the rotten foundation.
Peter: Shiny stuff on the rotten foundation I like it, Joe. Do you use that in meetings?
Joe: It’s a bugbear for me, I mean I understand that corporates have these huge legacy environments, so for me, it’s speaking to the senior managers and VPs to showcase to them what’s it going to cost us in five years. Because the problem now is this stuff will take along time and cost a lot of money to fix these issues, if you’ve got legacy data issues then you’ve got to sit down and do that. I’ve worked with several organisations who have had this huge transformation and spent the time to clean up all their back of house and then once they are there it makes it so much easier for them to quickly deploy new things as they move forward.
And, I’ve been excited about the challenge of 3M, and I can see that migration happening with a large organisation, and it does take time it’s not going to be something that can happen in 12 months especially if you’re a very large organisation. But, if you’ve got that goal to move forward and you’ve an understanding that you have to consistently change and that you’ll never finish that’s the other part of is that digital and data, it’s not an oil painting these things never stop. We’re looking at a live-action movie that’s going to continue till as long as the company exists, so we must be ready for those changes and be able to consistently and keep on refreshing and improving that.
Peter: A live-action movie with no shootout at the end.
Joe: That’s correct.
Peter: Do you find that with corporate’s, with the organisations you’ve worked for that you still need that champion or champions to push this through and there are the rest of the people are just sitting on the sidelines saying not so sure about this stuff?
Joe: Definitely, I still think it depends on the culture of the organisation but if you’re talking about especially the 20th-century companies. You’ve got people who have had long tenure, and they’ve seen the shift in the business and somewhat scared of that change. As I said that big part for me is to grab their hand and bring them along, I’m here to be a champion, but I’m also here to bring other people along and move them into this 21st-century and start to get them excited and bring some life back into their jobs sometimes. I mean sometimes you’ve got someone who’s been working in an organisation for 10 or 15 years they’re feeling like they’re just doing the same old, same old. So, for me I want to surprise and delight people and actually get them to start thinking, how can I change my role or how can I move into a completely new role by starting to embrace these new technologies on a digital platform.
Peter: So, there’s going to be a rush of people contacting you, Joe to see if there are any jobs working with you at 3M. It’s not a bad problem to have. What do you think are the most exciting industries in which you think they’re absolutely poised to really do some incredible things in the digital space and with digital technology?
Joe: Funnily enough, I’m really excited about FMCG, seeing some interesting things happening and I think a lot of the organisations are fearful of Amazon and they should be. Amazon is doing some amazing stuff with the store where you don’t need to have any cash, and these thing’s that they’re doing. For me having that monolithic company pushing these traditional businesses is I think the best thing that has happened to them, and it’s been about 10 years that I’ve seen this started to happen. And, we’re starting to get real acceleration in innovation with these companies where they’re either spinning up new businesses themselves or buying start-ups, where you’ve had the Dollar Shave Club guys get bought just recently because of their subscription models. So, I think that that’s a dynamic area because I think these businesses understand if they don’t innovate quickly they’re going to start to become irrelevant, and they’ll go the way of Kodak, so I’m really excited about that stuff.
Peter: As a former FMCG brand manager myself I still have that fascination for FMCG companies. And, quite frankly I actually just noticed in the trade press today that the CMO of Unilever that position’s been made redundant or he’s been moved on, and he was saying a few things that FMCG is really under attack and obviously, they are. But, the traditional branded FMCG companies because we see premium house brands from the supermarkets and I know they’re not the only FMCG brands out there. But, the reason I think that the FMCG marketers in the supermarkets have missed a trick is that they haven’t connected with their customers, their customers are the guys that sit in corporate Woolworths and Coles headquarters basically and a few of the small retailers.
So, essentially, they’re creating the brands, they’re paying for the brands, paying for the distribution but ultimately, it’s the last three feet they’re not in charge of, they don’t control that. And, I think that’s where the huge opportunity with digital and I agree with you Joe I think FMCG have so many opportunities. And, particularly the larger organisations they have so much money, marketing money if you will, and they have so many opportunities, but they’re not taking advantage of it because it doesn’t seem to be much of a will.
Joe: No, I totally agree and something you engage with every day, if they’re consumable items you’ve got the chance to engage with that person and delight them every single day, and I think a lot of brands are missing the boat. And, that’s why companies like Dollar Shave Club or there’s a whole bunch of these new subscription services that are coming out and they’re talking directly to that daily requirements. And they’re augmenting the subscription based on how you use things, and they’re really flexible, and they’re fun and they’ve started to own that last three feet as we talked about. They’re taking it out of the hands of someone inside a supermarket and moving to online where the box arrives at your door, and you don’t even have to do think about it. And, that’s why I think there’s a real danger of these big box shops completely vanishing I mean I know Walmart’s labs and they’re doing a lot of work. Woolworth’s and Coles here both have similar start-up style environments where they’re just throwing things at the wall they’re trying to see how they can own that space. And, then obviously you’ve got the brands that are trying to do the same. Unilever has done some interesting innovations and Nestle as well, see them scrambling.
Peter: I see Nestle have historically been very good at establishing one-to-one relationships with their customers, but I’m not sure how far they’ve been going. On my list of people talk to is the Head of Digital for Nestle so it might be worth having that conversation as well. So, what are some of the funniest things you’ve seen regarding digital when it comes to corporate’s?
Joe: I think the assumptions are always the funny thing I’ve sat in some C-level meetings and had people tell me that tradies don’t use mobile phones for example or that they don’t use social media because it’s going to steal their identities. There’s those interesting moments and I tend to find that if I can understand what they’re either their personal passions are or something inside the business they’re really excited about. And, you can show them that the digital environment will deliver something that’s of value to themselves, and especially if you can find out what their personal passions are. If you’re able to show someone a bit more senior that okay you can directly connect with your favourite golfer or whatever it is, I think that tends to be an interesting thing.
The other part I think is the fun thing is working in an environment where it’s so fast paced and having monumental failures and being able to shrug it off and work with the team to get back on track and do things. I think that’s the benefit of working fast in a digital environment and having that ability to fail fast and then get up and quickly turn it around. I’m the first to admit that I’ve had some great failures. But, it’s because I’ve had managers who allowed me to experiment, go out there and make the mistake, but then learn from it and then build something better the next time.
Peter: I know that 3M has some incredibly dry, if you will, divisions, I mean there’s about 28 to 30 different divisions servicing some pretty obscure things like traffic line markings, which you wouldn’t think about. But, it is quite a big business as you would imagine because it’s on every road in Australia for example not to mention the world. But, a comment that has often been made to me is that look we’re in a boring industry, or we’ve got boring brands and it’s not that fun. And, I always say just find the passion point, that’s a common word that you’ve used quite a bit Joe and in my opinion it’s like what is the passion point for the product? It might not necessarily be in the product in and of itself. Because when you think about it, Coca-Cola, it’s just flavoured water, it’s not that much. It’s what we as marketers can create the feelings and evoke all these different types of wants and desires around that brand, it’s not the brand as such. Do you find particularly in the environment where you are dealing with a lot of products and brands that are not that exciting that you are searching for that passion point and connecting that to technology?
Joe: Its funny I think you look at some of those more blue-collar industries and thinking there’s no passion. But, then you’ve got one who is absolutely obsessed with using the perfect sandpaper or absolutely obsessed with understanding the best way to polish his car or apply the best film to the tint on his car. These guys you’ve got there’s always massive amounts of fans in very, very niche areas. The big thing that digital does is allow us to connect those uber fans or find those uber fans and provide them information. Now you jump on Reddit, or you jump on any of these social media sites, and you can find that there’s 50,000 people that are talking about the most obscure thing. And, if your brand or your products align to their passion they’re going to jump all over you, so the benefit if you can give them value they’ll love you forever. I found it a lot with Gloria Jeans I meanwhile you’ve got the person who buys a coffee once a day or whatever there were these coffee fanatics who would spend hours debating the best way to roast the coffee beans. There’s always those obsessed fans, and if you can find and tap into those, it doesn’t matter what market, you’ll find them. And, digital allows you to as I said personalise on scale and be able to touch those people the right way at the right time that they actually want to talk to you. So, I think that a benefit.
Peter: So, okay I mentioned at the beginning of the discussion how different are you today than you were five years ago. Let’s look in the crystal ball, put on the shawl. And, say in five years’ time how do you think the marketing or the communications landscape is going to be different to the way it is today?
Joe: I think the biggest part, and I just mentioned it, is that personalisation. I think the interesting thing is going to be is that we’ve got these huge monolithic organisations with your Facebook, Amazon, Google, Apple, these guys are going to affect the world they’ll shape the planet I think. And, I don’t think people realise the impact that these companies are already having, but will continue to have just because of the wealth of information that they’re gathering and people are freely giving up. And, I think we’ve got the world going in one or two ways where they’ll either embrace it or reject this scenario. If they embrace it, I hope that there’s a governance for this data collection to be beneficial both ways, because at the moment these large organisations are collecting information and they are making a lot of the money and people are not making as much the other way.
Or even if they aren’t making money at least give them that value. And, that’s what I see where brands and businesses can really start to add value. If they can anticipate the needs of somebody, and this is the hope and this is what artificial intelligence, machine learning can provide. It’s that surprise and delight every morning that they understand that you feel like having toast instead of cereal today and that you feel like a cup of tea instead of a cup of coffee because of the way you slept with your connected mattress. I think it’s going to be really interesting if we can start to actually marry those things together. The other side of that is if we just start bombarding people with highly targeted advertising, but I think we’re at the stage now where the millennials, I hate that term but the younger generation of people are already rejecting advertising.
They live in a world of streaming every single movie being free without ads, so advertising in its current form I think is going to radically change. I think advertising is going to become a more nuanced experiential type of environment, sort of personalised and tailored specifically for you, and I think they’re the businesses that are going to win. And, these may be either new start-ups that are delivering a superior service or a superior product, or you will find some of the incumbents that are able to shift. But, I think we’re at this will tipping point now where some of these older school companies may fail because they aren’t able to move fast and anticipate the needs of this changing environment and the changing population. I think we’re at the stage where the C-level people you know especially the baby boomer generation are all starting to retire and become less influential in the workplace. And, as that starts to happen you’re moving into people of my age that are starting to you know Gen Xs who grew up with computers, be it rudimentary but we understand the information intimately, but we’ve still got the old-world methodologies to fall back on.
Peter: So, basically you understand the new world, but you also know enough of the old world to be able to book a profit for the organisation?
Joe: Yeah, correct and I think that’s what the next generation C-suites will be, they’ll be these guys that straddle both worlds and move and reef everybody up by the collars to move them into the new world a lot faster. And, they’ll have to because otherwise up-and-coming start-ups will jump into the space and eat your business for lunch, because they can do it faster and more efficiently and touch a customer and connect with them more intimately than you’ll ever be able to with your old-world methodology.
Peter: Or like Dollar Shave Club as you suggested they get swallowed up by Unilever, one of the old monoliths for $500 million and they probably get, as I say swallow up is the operative word in two or three years’ time they disappear altogether but that’s yet to be played out I guess.
Joe: And, that’s the interesting thing with those acquisitions you want to hope that Unilever’s smart enough to let the Dollar Shave Club guys be their own entity because they’ve already got their own ecosystem and if you swallow them up and bring them into the fold you destroy that ecosystem. That’s something a bit traditional all the businesses must understand if they are acquiring start-ups is that these guys are kicking your butt because they have worked out a way to build a community around their brand.
Peter: So, final question Joe and look you’ve given us some fantastic tips and insights over the course of our conversation and if we’re covering old ground I apologise. But, it’s like what are the top three tips you would give to someone who’s looking at getting into digital or someone who’s already in marketing, and they’re looking to skill up. And, again as I know we’ve talked about this in the past I go to meet up groups but what are your top three tips for someone to achieve digital marketing excellence in the future?
Joe: Research and all those myriad things that we’ve talked about is number one. So, knowing your topics, knowing what you’re talking about. Confidence is huge, if you can’t go in there with the confidence of understanding and that comes from having that information in the back of your head, but going in there with that confidence and being strong and sort of fighting for the cause. And, I think the last one is bringing people on the journey. So, if you’re out there looking like you’re the uber geek you’ve got to have that understanding that as you learn, start to inform others, the more of an army you can build around you I think the more successful you’ll have.
Peter: Fantastic, Joe Millward thank you so much for your time, it has really been fascinating and very insightful, and I’m sure everyone who listens to this will get a hell of a lot out of it, and I certainly have as well, so thank you, and we’ll speak again.
Joe: Yeah you too, thanks a lot.
Peter: All the best Joe thank you. Well, thank you for listening to this episode of a Corporate Digital Marketing Podcast I hope that you enjoyed it as much as I did. Joe is a fascinating guy he’s got some incredible experience in the Australian digital world, and he certainly is not living in the past he certainly has his eye firmly fixed on what’s coming such as augmented reality and artificial intelligence. So, look what I loved about the comment he used was personalisation on scale. And, I think that’s really the foundational concept of what we should be looking at when it comes to digital marketing opportunities for corporates and of course organisations of any size. But, all of this will be in the show notes; we’ll have a transcription of the interview with Joe and look forward to speaking with you next time. Thanks a lot, bye.