Business-to-Business Blogging: Who’s the Audience?

Hola Todos!

In my 10th years as an academic (University of South Florida in Tampa, Suffolk University in Boston, and now Seton Hall University in north Jersey), I’m very proud to have played some part in students’ learning experience. One of the most rewarding parts of being a professor is to see the former students grow and succeed professionally.  Thanks to DigNuggetville, LinkedIn, and Twitter, is much easier now to stay in touch with previous students than when I started teaching “back in the day.”

Just this week, I was in an email conversation with Chris Borkes, Marketing Director at Trade Supply Group.  I asked Chris if I could post our conversation on the blog like a Topic Talk and he gracefully agreed.

Chris began:

Hey Dr. Dan-o!  Hope you are doing well.

I came across this article today and wanted to send it along.  It provides a few “nuggets” from the report as well as the full report if you feel like reading through it.

Resonates well with what I am doing marketing wise for some of the businesses I am working with and responsible for. Their key market segment is B2B so it was a solid read for me. It definitely provides me with some support in making some changes and in plans going forward at some of the companies.

Think you will enjoy the content on social media and B2B businesses, it is brief but provides feedback on it since you do enjoy social media a lot.

 I responded:

Hola Chris – thanks for forwarding on the nugget…can I use it and some of your text below for a DigNuggetville post?

I think the hardest part on B-2-B is creating that content. I mean – whom are you creating the content for? The person you sell to (small audience) or the end user (larger audience)?

Chris responded back:

Hey Dr. Dan-O – Yes – for sure you can use this if you would like.

I agree that positioning the content is difficult to create. I find myself dealing with that every day in every marketing decision I am making with the companies (there’s four different businesses in different markets that fall under my role in the company I am with).

The majority of the company’s focus is on our relationships with the businesses we sell to and growing that business. So in addition to maintaining and growing those businesses, I believe we still have to market to the end users. This is because we want them going to the “small audience” asking/demanding the products they purchase from us. The mix of marketing to end users and businesses varies between the different companies I work with.

In my position, I am looking at it at every angle and look to the relationships I have developed with my colleagues who are out in the field every day and/or in front of our customers for feedback on what is happening in the market. I cannot be in front of customers and in the field every day. In addition to this, leveraging the relationships we have with our vendors is essential. They have great resources we can utilize to ensure we are as effective as possible in targeting our customers, developing marketing materials and campaigns, and ensuring our sales staff is as knowledgeable as possible. These definitely help me be more effective in my role setting the marketing direction, plans, and executing them.

Thank you for taking the time to read through and keep in touch. I greatly appreciate it!

 -Chris

No, thank you Chris and I hope I can still be helpful in “Life after Seton Hall.”

Something to think about today…

 

Best regards,

Dr. Dan-o

 

Daniel M. Ladik, Ph.D.,

Associate Professor of Marketing

Stillman School of Business

Seton Hall University

Steve Jobs Book Summary: I Wonder if Yukari Iwatani Kane Should Be Afraid of the Ghost of Steve Jobs?

Hola Todos!

In the previous post, I more than suggested that Tim Cook is not afraid of the ghost of Steve Jobs.  After reading all the reviews, I wonder if Yukari Iwatani Kane should be afraid of the ghost of Steve Jobs?  If anyone could figure out a way come back from the dead and haunt someone, Steve would.

Let’s just say that Yukari Iwatani Kane was not kind to Apple and Company in her book “Haunted Empire” about the post-Steve Jobs era.  Apple CEO Tim Cook called it “nonsense” and I knew she would show up as a talking head on CNBC. Yukari Iwatani Kane reacted “surprised” by the comment and said “I must have touched a nerve.” As, John Gruber of Daring Fireball interpreted:

Somehow I doubt she was surprised by her conclusions. As for why Cook saw fit to comment, sure, it could be because her book hit painfully close to home. Or, it could be that it truly is nonsense. Reviews thus far clearly suggest the latter.”

I’m still debating whether I’m going to pick up the book and give it a good read but for now, here’s a few “Haunted Empire” book summary links:

-Philip Elmer-DeWitt – Apple 2.0 Blog 

-Seth Weintraub – 9to5mac.com

-Rene Ritchie – imore.com “Haunted Empire review: It’s the book about Apple after Steve Jobs that’s the real horror story

-Jason Snell – Macworld

 

Best regards,

Dr. Dan-o

 

Daniel M. Ladik, Ph.D.,

Associate Professor of Marketing

Stillman School of Business

Seton Hall University

Yukari Iwatani Kane Has it Wrong – Tim Cook is NOT Afraid of the Ghost of Steve Jobs

Hola Todos!

Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion and that is truly a wonderful thing. Within the Apple blogs, Wall Street Journal Apple beat reporter Yukari Iwatani Kane is getting slammed for her new book Haunted Empire (see Philip Elmer-Dewitt’s Apple 2.0 blog).  The basic premise of the book is: Apple is doomed, Steve Jobs was Apple, since his death Apple has been less innovative, and once Apple runs out of iOS, iPhone, and iPad steam, it will become a shell of it’s former glory.

In my eyes, Yukari Iwatani Kane is a very smart reporter.  She knows this is the dominant storyline – myth – mantra – or whatever you want to call it in the business press and if she wants to sell a truckload of books, this is the best storyline to go with. The zealot Apple fans will go nuts, the blogosphere will blow up, and she will be on endless cable TV shows (CNBC – start warming up that chair as your talking heads LOVE this storyline) from here to eternity as she will always be called to argue against Apple. If you look at this story from her perspective, this is the most profitable angle to write an Apple book, regardless if it’s factually correct.

To be direct, I could not disagree more with the Haunted storyline.  In other words, I believe in the significantly less profitable storyline and I have been writing about it for some time: Tim Cook is NOT afraid of the Ghost of Steve Jobs.  For instance:

-February 7th, 2014 – Steve Jobs Was Wrong About the Beatles

“I am optimistic on Apple’s future, as I believe Cook is unafraid of ghost of Steve Jobs.  While Forestall’s ousting was clearly a major indicator of Tim’s willingness to do what is best for the future of Apple, it is also a major indicator that Tim does not envision himself as just the torch carrier of Apple’s past. Beyond the October 2012 senior management shakeup, there are other indicators as well such as, Apple’s corporate social responsibility in China, the disbursement of dividends, taking on debt, and charitable giving just to name a few.  Cook knows the Apple of the past cannot be the growth engine of the Apple of the future. If the rapid and radical update to iOS 7 is any indicator, I am optimistic that Apple will not be resting on its laurels in the Tim Cook era; Cook wants the tension to be healthy, the collaboration among the band leaders to be strong, and most important, the songs to be amazing for years to come.”

Similar thoughts could also be found in:

-June 27th 2013 – Apple Social Responsibility in China: An Update

-June 11th 2013 – Apple 2013 WWDC Round-Up: Welcome to the Post-Steve Jobs Era

February 26th 2013 – Is Apple Cursed? An Intriguing Conversation…

October 5th 2012  – The Legacy of Steve Jobs: One-Year Out…

All of the links above argue strongly against the premise of Haunted Empire. In fact, if a journalist were to do their homework, the biggest nugget into the psyche of Tim Cook was expressed in a 2009 quarterly earning call with financial analysts. It was Tim Cook (a full two years before he would replace Steve Jobs as CEO) who best articulated Apple’s modus operandi:

“We believe we are on the face of the Earth to make great products, and that’s not changing.  We are constantly focused on innovating.  We believe in the simple and not the complex.  We believe that we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products that we make, and participate only in markets where we can make a significant contribution.  We believe in saying no to thousands of projects, so that we can really focus on the few that are truly important and meaningful to us.  We believe in deep collaboration and cross-pollination of our groups, which allow us to innovate in a way that others cannot.  And frankly, we don’t settle for anything less than excellence in every group in the company, and we have the self-honesty to admit when we’re wrong and the courage to change.  And I think, regardless of who is in the job, those values are so embedded in this company that Apple will do extremely well” (Isaacson 2011, pg. 488).

I understand that it will take much more than a few posts from a small blog like DigNuggetville to change the tide and shift the dominant logic of the business press to think differently. However, all is takes is one new product launch in 2014 – a new product that was clearly not on the drawing board during the Steve Jobs era and I expect that Haunted tide to slowly shift in the opposite direction.  Luckily for Yukari Iwatani Kane, she released Haunted Empire a few months before WWDC 2014 because I have hunch that she will need brush up her debating skills.

Something to follow in 2014…

Best regards,

Dr. Dan-o

 

Daniel M. Ladik, Ph.D.,

Associate Professor of Marketing

Stillman School of Business

Seton Hall University

What Does Tim Cook…Cooking? Apple Will have New Product Lines in 2014

Hola Todos!

Sorry for the pun…but as the expression goes, “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” and Apple does has a number of things cooking at the moment. Not even going out on a limb with the title of this post; first up – Apple announced this week at the Geneva Auto Show  – CarPlay – as described by Apple CMO Philip Schiller “CarPlay: iPhone on Wheels.” (See Apple official press release – a video demo – commentary from MacWorld.) While this is a new product, the impact on the balance sheet will be negligible: Apple sells more iPhones in a month than total yearly auto sales and this is probably some small nominal fee to the auto manufactures to get iOS in the dashboard.

In other Apple news from the most recent Annual Shareholders Meeting, CEO Tim Cook slipped out that Apple TV had revenue of over $1 billion last year; that’s starting to sound less and less like a hobby.  This could be the year Apple takes the training wheels off Apple TV and gives us a better remote control and interface, as well as, an App store of unique Apple TV Apps.

Perhaps the most interesting of all is what Apple has up its sleeve (sorry, bad pun again) with wearables. To say the least, I would be stunned if Apple did not do something in this space this year.  Just look at the people Apple hired in the last 12 months: 

  • Kevin Lynch: Former chief technology officer at Adobe. Joined Apple last March. Now manages a large in-house team of former iPod and iOS developers.
  • Jay Blahnik:  Fitness expert. From Nike. Worked on the FuelBand; known in the field as a trainer and motivational speaker.
  • Roy Raymann: Scientist. From Phillips. Expert in non-pharmaceutical methods for improving the quality of sleep; developed miniature sensors for monitoring sleep.
  • Paul Deneve: Former CEO, Yves Saint Laurent. Worked at Apple for several years before leading one the most valuable brands in fashion.
  • Angela Ahrendts: Former CEO, Burberry. Credited with Burberry’s tech-heavy turnaround. Tapped to head Apple retail, both brick-and-mortar and online.
  • Ben Shaffer: Designer. He was the director of Nike’s “Innovation Kitchen,” the R&D lab that produced the FuelBand and the Flyknit shoe.
  • Ueyn Block: Was director of engineering at C8 MediSensor, which developed a non-invasive way to glucose levels and other vital signs.
  • Nancy Dougherty: Hardware engineer. At Proteus Digital Health she worked on smart patches and ingestible, Bluetooth-connected smart pills. Most recently, she worked as a hardware lead for Sano Intelligence, whose tagline reads “the API for the bloodstream.”
  • Todd Whitehurst: Hardware development. As Senseonics’s VP of hardware engineering, he  ran the engineering team for a wireless, smartphone-connected body sensor for monitoring glucose levels in real time.
  • Michael O’Reilly: Former chief medical officer for Masimo, which markets a wireless pulse oximeter for the iPhone.
  • Ravi Narashamian: Expert in biosensors and wireless communications. At Vital Connect he focused on sensors for measuring respiration and activity levels with wearable devices.

I would call this a lot of smoke!  Moreover, this is on top of a leaked report from the New York Times that Apple executives were in Washington DC in December 2013 to get FDA approval for some medical functionality for an Apple device.

To wrap up – wearables and TV will definitely need new App platforms and I believe CarPlay would also need some modification as well.  That means, Apple will have to make a number of announcements around early summer for their World Wide Developers Conference to get the Apple software community on board.

Something to watch this year…

 

Best regards,

Dr. Dan-o

 

Daniel M. Ladik, Ph.D.,

Associate Professor of Marketing

Stillman School of Business

Seton Hall University

 

 

Mondelez Transitioning to Digital

Hola Todos!

More and more marketing firms are switching their advertising dollars from traditional media to digital media.  Here were my thoughts from a previous DigNuggetville post on Nike:

 

“I have been singing this song for the past 3 to 4 years now: the decline of traditional shotgun mass-marketing national TV advertising and the rise of interactive, two-way, trackable and ROI calculating advertising – all at the same time being significantly micro-targeting to smaller and more specific customers.” 

 

Mondelez is the next Fortune 500 firm to begin the transition to digital with the goal to grow mobile and digital from about a quarter of its media budget to more than half of all spending by 2016. Speaking of quotes, let’s see a few from Mondelez:

 

“Digital programming has proven to drive twice the ROI of traditional TV advertising”

-The brand also claims to be the No. 1 food brand on Facebook with more 35 million fans. “Does [digital] really drive sales? Absolutely, Oreo has grown double digits two years in a row, generating over a billion in revenue in North America last year.”

 

While I do not believe digital advertising vehicles are superior to traditional advertising vehicles in all cases, the advantages including costs, trackability and microtargeting are getting harder and harder to overlook.

Something to keep track of this year…

 

Best regards,

Dr. Dan-o

 

Daniel M. Ladik, Ph.D.,

Associate Professor of Marketing

Stillman School of Business

Seton Hall University