All posts by patrick dsouza

About patrick dsouza

Hi, I'm Patrick and I'm the founder of Insanity - a Sydney based creative consultancy. Insanity believes that while creativity is a powerful concept, it is even more so when fused with empathy - something we feel the world is in particular short supply off at the moment. By fusing the two concepts, we' ve developed a process of creating communications that are not only more effective but also personally satisfying and fulfilling at many levels. We're a start up and we re a small team of nice people from traditional, media, creative and digital backgrounds trying to make a living - an a difference - at the same time! To learn more, message me on patrick@insanity.com.au (live June 20, 2014 onwards) or twitter handle @patrickdsg or patrick.dsouza5@gmail.com

What is even more tragic than Simone Battle s death is the fact that it could have been prevented

Increasingly what we find society and ourselves to be in – a state of denial.

The fact that we have a problem, one we may not have fully understood yet,  is becoming harder and harder to ignore.

Simone Battle is the latest casualty, in what is a worrying prominence depression and suicide appeared to have gained in our consciousness –  if not lives.

Is social at the heart of this? Maybe. But only from the perspective that what it  may have done to our attentive index is decreased it.

We are not noticing what is happening,  and what it is costing us is our ‘awareness’ – of what we are doing to ourselves and the ones around us. 

Increasingly we find ourselves unable to distinguish between an attack and a desperate cry and call for help.

Quick to judge, and put down views that oppose our own, what social may have damaged, even permanently, is our ability to reflect – rather than react.

“Snap out of it” could be the most unthinking, and unfeeling , famous last words we will ever utter to a family member suffering from depression.

But it is their problem, not ours,  a  resident script in danger of being
normalised – and in the process being given the credibility and legitimacy – few believe it really deserves.

What can we do about the problem. We can build apps to sort it. That’s just what we ve done at Insanity. Our Depressive Index app is an incubated idea that we developed in response to Charlotte Dawson’s death. An opt in app, people vulnerable to depression can choose to feed tweets and posts through the app which uses sentiment analysis to assess the nature of their moods – high low, dangerously low! Alerts are sent to family,  friends and caregivers who can then take necessary and truly supportive action.

The most depressive part about this invention is we have no takers for it. It’s not very hard to get off the ground. Algorithms exist  we know they do because of Facebook and the recent emotion index experiment they conducted – which we thought was awesome!

But the depressive index app isn’t where it ends.  It’s where it starts.

A new project we have is an app that appends itself to email, messaging and social systems. We re not even sure if we can get this app going yet but it’s premise is very simple  amd based on the knowledge that what many of us are unable to do is hold back our emotions and instincts. To help us do so, what the app does is delay our actions. The emails or messages we send – aren’t actually.  They are held for a period that can be set from anything to a few hours to a few days.  After this cooling off period the app re-presents us with our message and asks if we d still like to send it . If not,  the decision to send is cancelled. What happens in the process could be the retention of relationships and the prevention of hurt that cause cause unundoable harm.

Insanity is a creative consultancy that was set up in a response to a world we feel is going increasingly mad thanks to the options placed before it. We believe that Creativity is nothing without Empathy and unless you build on this foundation therefore any solutions you develop are unlikely to be hinged or relevant. We welcome you to connect and find out more about us by emailing patrick@insanitysydney.com.au

What’s disturbing about the ad industry?

The depths it feels obliged to sink to – every now and again. These commercials for Kotex China really take the cake. Besides offending sensibilities, one struggles to to see what good they could possibly do for a brand in the Internet age by offending Cats and Chinese men! The brand’s errors of judgement don’t just stop here however. In behaviour that can only be termed defensive,  what the brand has done is disabled comments on its YouTube Channel – ostensibly due to the negative response the ads received. In doing so, they didn’t limit their losses, they extended them. By not listening to feedback that could have helped them develop a response more in line with the expectations of the public. 

The FBI believes in the sharing economy – even if you don’t!

They’ve just shared a file containing the names of 680,000 people suspected to be supporting terrorism, with 22 countries – Australia, being one of them – City of Mosul – not so sure!

Included in this master list of of names will undoubtedly be big ones, of course, like Mike Carlton, Russell Brandt and Annie Lennox:).

What is concerning about this list is the way it has been created – silently, secretly, covertly.

When anything is done secretly, it’s usually with founded reason. That reason, most often is the violation of a right that is civil, social or constitutional.

The list provides more questions than answers. What is defined as support, for example for terrorism – a tweet or post? Seems like it, if Arjun Sethi is to be believed. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/aug/30/terrorist-watch-list-rules-innocent-people

Given we live in the age of cultural disdain (we foist democracy on countries perfectly happy with monarchies), the basis on which the file was created, and in fact will be maintained moving forward, should be revealed to the public.

This is because of the inanities of the past – where families have been targeted because of what they looked up and purchased on the web – chick pea cookers- for example! http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/01/new-york-police-terrorism-pressure-cooker

Yes these ubiquitous things that take the pressure of time and that all Indian and Pakistani households use (given lentils will take 6 hours to cook without them!) are what created a raid as embarrassing as this latest ‘name and shame’ list the US Government has put together.

What ISIS is doing is terror (fying). But what our Governments are, is too!

Mindfulness in marketing

mindfull marketer

An excerpt from the book ‘the Mindful marketer’; by Lisa Nirrel. URL bottom of page 

This post is an excerpt from ‘The Mindful Marketer,”(Palgrave Macmillan, September 2014) by Lisa Nirell. Nirell is chief energy officer of EnergizeGrowth LLC. She has helped B2B companies grow customer mind-share and market share since 1983.

It was 1984, and the personal computer revolution was well underway. I was working for one of the world’s first commercially successful PC software companies, MultiMate International. We disrupted the word-processing industry by displacing stand-alone devices from now defunct companies such as Digital Equipment (DEC) and Wang. Will Jones, the CEO, was a fun-loving software genius at heart, and often roller-skated down the corridors of our converted warehouse offices to boost morale.

We doubled in size for several consecutive years and watched revenues soar. As the International Marketing Manager, I did my best to keep up the pace. In those heady days, the priority was closing business and selling as many licenses to my distributors as I could, not managing profit margins. I seldom communicated with the finance team — that was the VP of Sales and Marketing’s job. Instead, I spoke the language of publicity, marketing programs, events management, and managing channel partners.

During one summer afternoon in 1985, the business temporarily came to a halt when Jones sold MultiMate to Ashton-Tate and immediately laid off half of the company. While he shared the bad news with each employee, including me, he wore his roller skates, jeans, and a terribly loud and annoying bright yellow t-shirt. It bore a smiley face and the caption “Happiness is Positive Cash Flow.”

I quickly realized, at the ripe age of 23, that growth at any price had a cost, and consolidation was a necessary, yet ugly, part of the cycle of industry maturity.

I am probably not the only marketing person who has felt clueless in the face of a liquidity event. In my experience, finance fundamentals are often passed on through the school of trial and error, not through formal education. We slowly learn the basics, such as the most critical roles that a CFO must fulfill. These include controllership, financial planning and analysis (FP&A), information technology (IT) and human resources (HR) management, treasury (forecast cash and liquidity relative to short-term and long-term working capital; Accounts Payable management), and strategy (valuation drivers, relations with external advisers, investment bankers, attorneys, etc.). Sadly, that’s not enough for a mindful marketer to thrive, because the CFO role is changing.

Two pivotal shifts are affecting CFOs today, and will impact marketers in untold ways:

  • Trend #1: Finance has greater influence and authority over operations and IT. According to Gary Patterson, CEO of advisory firm Fiscal Doctor, Inc., “in companies ranging from 50M-$1B, today’s CFOs are expected to play the role of both COO [chief operating officer] and CFO, which is even more of a strategic position.” This means that your CFO may also be responsible for additional activities such as prioritizing a finite set of company resources, communicating the strategy across the company, implementing performance and recognition programs, and overseeing staffing levels and team incentives to fulfill the company’s requirements.

The CFO is also increasingly involved in overseeing strategic technology investments. CFO Innovation Asia reported in December 2013 that in some countries, organizations are also seeing finance gaining more control over IT decisions: “nearly 83% of respondents [in the Robert Half study are] citing a rise in collaboration between the IT and finance teams during the last three years — a sign that IT will be integrated into financial performance planning, and the lines between the IT department and finance will continue to blur as technology becomes the valued enabler, rather than the end game.”

Don Clarke, a seasoned CFO based in Washington, D.C., suggests that this is a trend whose time has come. He has advised CEOs for over two decades, and overseen multiple liquidity events and public offerings. In today’s economy, he finds that “the CFO role is morphing towards a key business partner to the CEO. They both share something in common, and are unique in that they have to worry about the whole ‘family’: developers, HR, IT, Sales, and Marketing.”

What are the implications for CMOs? The CFO will expect marketers to speak the language of numbers and strategy more than ever before. It will be harder to justify your marketing budget unless you are capable of explaining how those marketing investments will benefit other departments and your customers.

  • Trend #2: Marketing and sales incentive plans and IT investments will require different reporting standards. The International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) are gradually being deployed to help public companies implement one set of global accounting standards. The intent is to facilitate growth and make it easier for investors and global teams to review and understand financial statements. The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) is the governing body. So far, public companies in the European Union (EU), Israel, New Zealand, Mexico, Canada, and Brazil have embraced the new standard. Once these standards are fully deployed in the United States, which is projected to happen in 2015, the accounting profession will face fundamental shifts.

CMOs have two options in this new IFRS scenario: to proactively work with their finance counterparts on a plan to adopt these new reporting standards into the marketing planning and budgeting cycles, or to watch what happens and respond hastily. The consequence of option two is further dissonance with finance.

It may take time for these trends to take hold in your organization. Until then, you can avoid these common measurement mistakes, which further alienate you from your finance team:

  1. Jumping to hasty conclusions. Let’s say that you launch a new website, and you generate a marketing campaign to promote the new features and offers. Soon after launch, website traffic spikes significantly. Your analytics reports tell you that visitors are spending a significantly longer time on the pages you feature. According to Larry Freed, former CEO of ForeSee and author of “Innovating Analytics,” many of us would immediately conclude that our launch was a big success: “Is that page great, or is it problematic? Visitors may love the content, or they may be getting stuck because of a problem on the page.”
  2. Relying too heavily on historical information. Freed continues by saying, “Many analytics programs are dominated by behavioral data. Behavioral data tell us what has happened, not what will happen. We may have visited, purchased, downloaded, registered, or whatever else the company is looking for us to do. Will we do it again? That depends on if our needs were met and we had a high level of satisfaction with the experience.”
  3. Confusing feedback with measurement. Freed defines measurement as “a random sample of consumers that gives us data that are representative of the broader audience. Feedback is unsolicited by the company and either is direct from the consumer to the company, or indirect from the consumer via social networks. Since the feedback generated on social networks is very difficult to track, if not impossible, the most vocal naysayers may never be counted. Furthermore, your biggest fans may seldom provide you with unsolicited feedback. It is crucial to avoid the temptation to make wholesale changes to your marketing plan or product strategy as a result of limited customer feedback.
  4. Gaming the system. The most common method that marketers use for gaming the system is to offer customers incentives to participate in your market research, and motivating employees to deploy strong-arm techniques to extract perfect satisfaction scores from their customers. I personally experienced the latter when I owned a Mercedes convertible. Within seconds of signing my service paperwork at the dealership, the service adviser said, “Our customer service team will be calling you to ensure you received 5-star service today. My team is given bonuses based on your scores. May I count on you to give us a perfect score?” I found this to be manipulative and perfunctory.

Freed advises us to “avoid incenting people to complete surveys, especially when there is no need. Never ask for personal data; some customers will decline to participate for privacy or confidentiality concerns. And try to prevent your staff from asking or begging their customers to give them good scores.”

What steps can a CMO do to earn more credibility with their CFO and fuel more innovations? In three words, financial language fluency.

Here are more detailed recommendations:

1. Bolster your competence around marketing planning and forecasting. This requires you to be transparent with the CFO. Here’s how. First, identify marketing on metrics that matter. Pick ones that align with your overall corporate objectives and the stage of growth your company is experiencing—not metrics that you think are “cool.”

I have often seen CMOs in start-ups track industry influencer coverage and new account revenues. Conversely, an established mid-market company may opt to track customer retention rates, pipeline velocity, customer wallet share, or brand repute. Your CFO usually reports on a broader set of metrics such as free cash flow, operating margins, revenue growth, and shareholder value.

Want to dazzle the CFO? Show them your anticipated spending plan for the next 90 days. This helps the CFO project cash flow, which is a particularly important topic for startups and fast-growth companies. Also, keep your progress reports consistent from one fiscal period to the next. This demonstrates that you have a good sense of what is happening in your organization.

2. Reinforce the term value creation, not marketing expense. While some activities in your integrated marketing plan will focus on short-term wins, brand development can often take five years to manage and measure. Educate your CFO on the importance of tracking both leading (behavioral) and trailing indicators (results) across the customer relationship spectrum. As a mindful marketer, you are a market maker, not an order taker.

In Figure 17.1, Freed offers a holistic model to capture a complete picture of your customers and the experience they are having at each point.

nirell graphic 1

The fundamental elements of the Customer Experience Ecosystem include behavioral data, feedback or service data, observation, and the customer experience.

  1. Agree with the CFO on what categories will be created for allocating funds.In a typical marketing plan, categories might include
    • global campaigns,
    • customer programs (advisory boards, reference account development),
    • content management,
    • marketing operations,
    • public relations,
    • analyst relations,
    • field marketing (if applicable),
    • brand advertising,
    • online marketing,
    • internal communications,

I am surprised by the number of CMOs who are expected to invest a percentage of their time in innovation, yet they fail to create an “innovation reserves” category in their annual budget. One CMO for a $2.5B firm whom I recently met does not have any such budget category. Consequently, whenever he wants to experiment with a new social media campaign or field marketing program, he is forced to withdraw those funds from his existing brand advertising budget. For companies that do not command the number one position among competitors, this can be a damaging to the brand and ultimately render their marketing initiatives stale.

  1. Balance savings discussions with spending discussions. Have you ever benchmarked your agency and research investments against industry standards? How do you know whether you are spending too much for these services? In one instance, McKinsey & Company reported that a consumer packaged-goods company conducted a study of their spend on marketing research and TV commercial testing. They were surprised to learn that they were using more than 48 different marketing research firms, and spending 50 percent more than the industry average on research. Once they made the necessary adjustments, they were able to reallocate 20 percent of their marketing budget to growth initiatives.
  2. Create ongoing collaboration opportunities with finance. One CFO from a rapidly growing business to business (B2B) company explains how two different CMOs behaved during planning meetings. The first CMO, whom we will call Barbara, became defensive when he asked for regular updates on her progress against the annual budget. The CFO noticed she was struggling with sticking to the budget, so he assigned a finance staff member (“Eric”) to help Barbara with the process. These individuals are often called Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A) professionals. The CFO told me, “She treated my staff member as if he were beneath her, and exceeded her budget by a large margin. At that point, it felt like a forced marriage.”

Shortly after that interchange, Barbara left the company, and a new CMO joined their firm. (Let’s call him “Alan.”) Within the first few weeks of meeting the CFO, Alan told the CFO, “I want to work with your team to see where every dollar goes. I would like Eric to come to our marketing meetings and help me educate our marketers to be more comfortable with numbers … our top marketing goal is to drive leads to the sales team.” This gave the CFO a sense of relief and a greater commitment to marketing than he previously had.

http://smartblogs.com/social-media/2014/08/29/how-cmos-can-dazzle-increasingly-empowered-cfos/?utm_source=brief 

 

What’s terror-fying about America

obamajpeg-0729c_s877x584

A few hours ago, the Washington Times reported (with some annoyance), that President Obama doesn’t have a plan to tackle ISIS.

Is this a problem’ I thought to myself.  ‘Not really’ said that still small voice in me.  ‘At least he’s honest about the fact that he doesn’t have a plan  – it’s more than his predecessors were!’

What’s ‘terror-fying’ about America is the way it thinks. Even in the face of dismal results, and data that suggests that what military action results in is little more than  unmitigated failure, it is still the only strategic option being considered.

Left-fieldism, blue sky thinking, they are out of the window – without even having been tried. This will likely end in tears, and yet another failed attempt to restore peace.

While the US Government has, is a lot of nukes. What it doesn’t seem to have within its arsenal is that all-important element of ‘awareness’ – awareness of what military action has led to over the years – a hardening of stance in the Islamic world. 

This is not a positive outcome, though its a predictable one. Given the bias, war, as a strategic response, seem to enjoy on our hearts.

This President is still the best the US has seen in a long time however. What Republicans cite as ‘indecisiveness‘ may actually be ‘thoughtfulness,’ even ‘protectiveness‘ overdemocracy, diligence in strategy  and most importantly – lives – be they American or other.

Why is Warren Buffet financing BK (Burger King)?

At over 80, one can’t help wondering why Warren Buffet has financed Burger King. Yes, it’s a debt not equity deal but there’d have to be an equity swap clause in the contract. Is the purpose of the deal to make more money? Maybe…but at his age how much more does he need..really?

Here’s what I think – he’s bought BK and will in time do something philanthropic with it. No he won’t shut it down (it was mean of me to even suggest that!) What he might do however is raise wages of the QSR industry forcing others to follow suit – leaving a legacy as large as Ford in the process.

Alternatively he could be planning to create a stock participation scheme that gives workers the rights they’ve craved and indeed have deserved for decades. Lets see where this goes. It could be anywhere.

Should we ‘like’ Moslems agains ISIL

Earlier today, saw a post on Facebook with a picture of ‘Moslems against ISIL.’ Wasn’t sure whether to like it or not. Liking it seemed a predictable response, not a questioning one. That could, I felt, stop us from asking the really important strategic questions like ‘what created ISIL – in the first place?’.

I don’t believe it was ideology I believe it was US foreign policy. Medieval, and manipulative it has not progressed sentiment, it has leveraged it – in a way that cannot be ignored or excused any more.

At the heart of the multiple wars we’ve seen since Bush sr’s invasion of Iraq seem fundamentally greed, hate, intolerance, right wing conservatism and concern for makes America really tick.

Bombs!

Americas arms and ammunition industry is the second highest foreign exchange income earner after entertainment. Someone has to keep the industry alive. The worlds Moslems may have been chosen for the job.

America has to change or it will lose more than just investable capital through ongoing tax inversion (Burger King/Canada). It will lose credibility and influence – and in a social world, what can be more powerful than that?