Speed Thrills

 Why Move Faster?...
- Save money - make fast decisions to more efficiently learn HOW you make your best and worst moves.
- Build momentum - rally your team's commitment to a more focused strategy and tactics. 
- Snapshot Opportunities - Get in the market ASAP (with an MVP) to REALLY learn. Only build on that.
- Delays compound - It's WAY more expensive to catch up... if you ever do ... (cue squealing tires of your competitors).

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Awesome AI

The Amazon Echo as an anatomical map of human labor, data and planetary resources:
Click to enlarge

Read more about this art project that honors and questions the magnitude of Artificial Intelligence and automation.

Intelligence is Back

Constant Innovation (CI?) Is the game to learn. Dynamic processes, flexible models, and elastic partnerships are now required ... and available.

“Intelligence Transformation”: The application of advanced analytic capabilities to create continuously learning and adapting processes, products, and assets that improve business and operational efficiency, enhance customer value, mitigate compliance and security risk, and uncover new monetization opportunities”

It’s not a focus on the “what” (visual perception, speech recognition, language translation, neural networks, machine learning), but a focus on the “why” (operational efficiency, risk mitigation, customer value).


Mind The Gap

You and your team should have some heated conversations around what customers want and what they want you to provide...

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Blah, Blah, ... then BLAH!

Note to CEOs: 3 levels of "talking" is required before a successful tech development (i.e mobile app, new product site, enterprise fix, etc) results in growth of your asset value and delivers net new revenue.

The 3 Blahs spell ACT ... because that's the message.

Blah #1 - A - Acknowledge

You have been observing the market shifts and talking with your team about your customers asking for more... and about competitors freaking you out... and about your options being expensive and endless.

Blah #2 - C - Commit

You have decided to invest RIGHT NOW in your future ... with a budget and a "safe container" to protect a dedicated team from the cynical "white blood cells" around your organization. You are encouraging and training these special people to develop clear goals and innovate with enthusiasm (while honoring those clear goals). They have been researching market opportunities, business models, creating mockups, and talking to customers (a lot).

Blah #3 - T - Test

Now it is time to take action and build your ideas in the market ... for real customers (NOT just research modeling, focus groups and mockups). You are working with internal and/or external software specialists that love what you have been blah blahing about! Growing in the right direction should feel as validating as small tweaks and mass pivots!

Learning is tough because innovation comes from iteration ... and that means building and launching through lots of wins AND losses along the always bumpy road to an optimized product that is never done but finally working, adding value, and generating the results you want... usually net new revenue.

READ: Our much more eloquent and thorough 4-page overview of the "Pitfalls on the Innovation Delivery Journey" at http://bit.ly/Pitfall_Innovation_Delivery_Journey

BONUS: from our partners at McKinsey: 

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Trust... Earned

I am optimistic again about how you can be a well paid hero. 

Thanks to Rupal's riffs in AdAge on 6 ways Ad Agencies earn respect by delivering results from ideas.

Key line:
"Execution turns out to be harder, more strategic and more valuable than everyone thought and ... it's what clients are coming to agencies for." 

(FYI, what qualifies Rupal is her years as an industry journalist and then realizing the best way to provide value is to work directly with the digital developers)

This is what the most ambitious and successful Agencies are providing: a safe havens for creative problem-solving with a diverse and appreciated workforce led by sincere leaders that get out of the way of empowered teams focusing on their mutually beloved clients and their bottom lines. Well, that IS a lot...perhaps guarded optimism.

That key line above is about not spinning aimlessly around "innovation" when there are products and services to be built! Yes, it sounds obvious ... that getting something out in the market into the hands of actual users is the only way to validate your assumptions .... and increase your chances of growing your client's revenue and asset value. The "i" word only works when it is applied beyond thinking, into and through production of something real. ONLY THEN can it be assessed accurately by real users and optimized. 

Because... Innovation = Iteration.

Let's all focus on what we do best but remember to include those that deliver. When you are talking about digital transformation, that's the frontend and backend engineers and coders.

Frankly, I am done with small talk about big ideas. The last several years have been great to open our mindset, setup our strategy processes, and delivery frameworks... Now, there are few good reasons not to take action.

Agency examples of how to grow businesses in this digital age should already be inspiring. By partnering with tech augmentors like Creative Chaos, you can deliver like R\GA, Anomaly, and (insert favorite Agency that helps clients grow their business here).  

If you want to know what you need to know, read Jules' 2016 State of the Digital Nation. Then look deeper at the new opportunities in the market to be yourself and read his 2020 update.

Again, support your trusted nerds ... include them early and throughout your process to develop a dynamic tech architecture that includes CI/CD microservice containers.

Since lots of us get lost in that last sentence, we are happy to discuss it. 

Any time... David - dcutler@creativechaos.co or 617-331-7852

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Diversity Required Around Tech and Everything!

At 10:30 Eric builds momentum on this helpful and very human speech on how to REALLY build a team of innovative problem-solvers... and he says:

Google, Apple, Facebook. Sixty-five percent of their open job opportunities are non-technical: marketers, designers, project managers, program managers, product managers, lawyers, HR specialists, trainers, coaches, sellers, buyers, on and on. These are the jobs they're hiring for. And if there's one thing that our future workforce needs -- and I think we can all agree on this -- it's diversity. But that diversity shouldn't end with gender or race. We need a diversity of backgrounds and skills, with introverts and extroverts and leaders and followers. That is our future workforce. And the fact that the technology is getting easier and more accessible frees that workforce up to study whatever they damn well please!"

The Right Side of Amazon

This is an awesome logo parody ... if you are not on the wrong side and competing with Amazon.

Consumers root for Amazon because Jeff delivers - half of ALL online sales!

Yes he wants global domination, but we can all learn from how he stays ahead.

It's no secret. Amazon innovates new services and more efficient operations through persistent iterations to actually be customer service focused. 

Step #1 - want this. Step #2 - build and re-build it. Step #3 - Repeat.

One of my favorite Bezos quotes is, "I regularly get asked about what is going to change in the future... nobody ever asks me what is NOT going to change... I would say human nature is not going to change."  - being understood, appreciated, treated fairly... yeah, customer service.

R/GA, the impressively-ever-evolving Agency has a helpful take on how to compete with Amazon...  Simply, (which it isn't) establish more direct relationships with your consumers. Know them better... know them different:

"What differentiates success from obsolescence these days is a company’s ability to relate to its customers and deliver one-of-kind, memorable experiences ... Customer relationship management is going to be really important now because it’s going to be about understanding who your real core customers are, making sure you have a real relationship with them and building on that core ... Having a strong point of view and understanding of the consumer."

See a short post on how our partners at McKinsey solve customer issues by adapting supply chains and leveraging ecosystems... “Digitization of supply chains accounts for more than 75% of the impact on incumbents’ profit growth” ... 75%...!

Bezos has his team. You have us.

We at Creative Chaos are here for you when you want to design, build, and update your digital presence for more efficient and effective customer service. Yes, we help you build websites and mobile apps... BUT ALSO what a CEO is focusing on... enterprise fixes, custom software between platforms, supply chain visibility and management, etc.

But, remember, you don't have to hire us... We are your flexible team when you need what Amazon is building. Click to enlarge this below CBInsights teardown infographic about who Amazon is hiring so they can stay ahead... grow AWS, not bother with Advertising (smallest sliver), and provide the provocatively-named, AI-as-a-Service...

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Open Innovation = Ideas + Consensus + Process

Here are a few excerpts from another helpful HBR article:

... the reasons more ideas from open innovation aren’t being adopted are political and cultural, not technical. Multiple gatekeepers, skepticism regarding anything “not invented here,” and turf wars all hold back adoption.

in addition to having good ideas, those design agencies whose concepts were successfully implemented had a more flexible approach to all stages of the development process.

Successful designers took five strategic actions to cultivate flexibility and trust. … not to drive efficiency but to create consensus:
  1. Create a multi-layered network
  2. Foster equal ownership
  3. Establish interim milestones
  4. Build an open business case
  5. Prototype early

David Cutler is Managing Director at Creative Chaos. They provide tech team augmentation and custom software development for funded Startups, Agencies, strategy consultants, and corporate Innovation Labs, such  as: McKinsey  BionicSolutions and AB InBev's Zx-Ventures.

Digital Transformation Is Operation Optimization

Listen here as eMarketer interviews top marketers about the challenges of Digital Transformation.

This is my summary with my POV... well, at least what I am observing that works.

Key Take Aways:  #1 - The most important opportunities are beyond marketing. #2 - Have trusted nerds on speed-dial.

Digital Transformation is your Digital Strategy for your Business Operations. 

Most business leaders are in "shock and awe." Help them.

"Digital" is over... everything is Digital

Hard to keep up - new channels - IoT, Connected Home, Car, voice! Since it is a constantly evolving market ... ther should be less pressure to know everything

Embrace the iteration process. Get ANYTHING into the market to react to - test test test!

    - Use tech to deliver visibility and truth.
     -  Silos must intersect and flow around a consistent customer journey.
     - Do not rely on Facebook for an assessment of YOUR customers.
     - Get tech architects to connect the dots between platforms.
     - Opportunities are around them. Just make them more productive!

Have CTRL = Content, Timing, Relevance, Location 
Get out there and FEEL real retail experiences.
Emotional connections are NEEDED in this digital world
     - acknowledge our very human analog existence

Accept that there is ROI from learning 
Make it fun to find mistakes since they are the process
Embrace sharing and learning together between client, vendor, customer

Marketers must be:
- Data Scientists (know enough to see the truth)
- Social Butterflies (friend and critic of media platforms)
- Economists (choosing priorities ...that produce)

Set innovation funds to experiment (removed from brand P and L)
Support successes (Remember cross-corp knowledge sharing)

Again, Summary: Have trusted nerds on speed-dial

Our Only Hope ... Is TechDev!

Should Agencies be terrified that the market is shifting away from them to Management Consultants? ... Well, yes if they are not providing what the client needs (which is way more than creative marketing campaigns).

The "inside" Digitization needs of our corporate clients are not changing... they have been trying to evolve their Digital operations for decades.

The problem is that this transition to digital efficiency is difficult emotionally (who prioritizes what?) and technologically (who is coding what?).

The big Management Consultants have seized this opportunity by helping CEOs directly with this heavy lifting. Marketing Agencies are not... but they should and they can... by adding technology solutions beyond the Media Platforms.

Accenture, Deloitte, Mckinsey, PwC, etc. always follow the opportunity (so can you).

Here are some excerpts from the latest Advertising Age Cover Story - "Out of the Shadows, Consultants Creep in on Agency Turf." 

... bring together the agency's data, analytics, research, CRM and search technology capabilities with the goal of creating more personalized content for clients.

The big consultancies are underestimating the value of creativity [and] the agencies are under- exploiting the value of business analytics," said Ivan Pollard, senior VP-strategic marketing at Coca-Cola Co. "Someone's going to crack that soon because data plus creativity is the future."

... startups like Uber and Airbnb have built brands by disrupting traditional business models with easy-to-use consumer interfaces—not with big ad budgets.

"Historically, brands have been built by pushed messages" with ads that gave "suggestions about how you should feel, or emote or think about a product or service," he added. But "we don't believe that is true at all anymore." Instead, Accenture's philosophy is that brands are built through "hundreds of customer interactions," ranging from e-commerce experiences to how people are treated in physical stores

The new branding is this idea of building experiences for customers that allow them to experience you in ways that are much more honest and truthful and engaging than just standing on Mount Olympus shouting what it is that you want somebody to believe about your brand,

One of the things that the consultancies have going for them is that they are not going through the traditional marketing channels. They are either going top-down through CEOs, or they are even going through the board

Once inside, consultancies position themselves as cost savers via big reorganization projects, while ad agencies are perceived as cost drivers

Deloitte Digital's agency Heat says, " We won this account specifically because we understood their business. We could bring all of the competitive intelligence and business strategy to bear in the creative pitch process and ultimately brought a data-driven approach to world-class creative," Hatch said. "You've got to check all those boxes."

SO... the article headline is wrong. What the Managing Consultants provide has never been the "Turf" of the Agencies.

However, technology solutions integrated across a clients business goals is an opportunity AND an obligation for all vendor/partners.

FYI - Adweek also explodes this in the "Big Bang - New World Order - Global consultancies are rocking the agency world, creating a new universe of offerings that meld marketing and technology."

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Managing Your Agency's Sales Pipeline

Photos and Tweet from

Another MAB FABulous session at MAB 14 
Managing an Agency Business meetup series.  

Come next time to meet founders of Boston's top design, dev and marketing agencies

This event featured a panel discussion on "Managing Your Agency's Sales Pipeline" 
with topics including how to better qualify leads, managing your daily sales responsibilities, 
improving your scoping process and increasing your close rate on new deals.

Here are notes from this session on your Sales Pipeline:

Give free advice to connectors in your target markets
Get permission from clients to do your own PR

Share challenges publicly (podcast/Post) as process to solve… be that network of solving

Know target personas
And their networks
Who is funded, hiring. Read Venture-Fizz

Outbound prospecting = big pipeline
Find, meet, qualify, pitch, close

Read Predictable Revenue – segmentation of roles. cold-callers, Account person,

Know Persona details – their issues, needs, size, fears, competitors, what tech are they using,
Segment qualifying

A/B split test everything
Quality – Tier 1 - Priorities
Quantity – Tier 2 – General category
Practice – Tier 3

Owler – target account news
Google Alerts

Have top 20 accounts listed and printed… share with potential partners/everyone

Load emails to systematically touch - Yesware, Sendbloom, Outreach.io

Ask prospects, “How is this digital project going to help your business?”

Pre-qualifying – Speed process by asking if they appreciate this:
“up-front contract” – setup in advance “I assume you will want to know how 
we work, prices, relevant case studies.”  I will need to ask budgets, timing, how
you make this decision”

Give/Get Balance = Respect
Be careful not to condition your client to keep asking for more, time, scope creep
BUT they need to be asking for more. Healthy

Do - Scorecard… Prioritize a list of Gives/Gets. Match numbers for each ranked item.
List “Gives” – info, proposals. trials, better terms, Sales Engineer time, consulting, 
 extension on trial, discounts
List “Gets” – decision process, timeline, meetings with seniors, budget, 
  referrals, testimonials

Sales is making connections and helping people out
Be as objective as possible. Not emotional. Practical

Best sales movies – Pursuit of Happiness. Tommy Boy.
           Stop pitching – conversations
           Helping – not commissions

 – we cannot do everything. We have great partners
           Help wherever you can
Follow GaryV – “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook”
Read Blinkest (book summaries)

“I’m confused”… “you said this, but this happened.” Hold them accountable
Never say,  “just checking in”
Pick up the phone!

Set expectations

Do – Summary email. Let them know before you send it
           List key action items for both … (active listening) … ask for confirmation
           Hold accountable
           Decision date? Put 15 minutes on the calendar
           Missed? Resend
           Confirm “what is best way to communicate with you”
                          I will get back to you within 24 hours… what can I expect from you?
           ALWAYS start “The reason for my call is…”
Influence https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Cialdini - Reciprocity. Give reason

Keep emotions out
Have a walk-away line… do not cross it!

Handoff from Sales to production/service… (at 40:00+)
           Kick-off deck

Use “Summary Email” to follow up call… and start next meeting for clarification
 Get paid for pilot
Have detailed success criteria

Sales Stacks:

Owler – target account news
Google Alerts
Hubspot to Zapier to service tools
https://app.contactually -CRM (like Zendesk)
?...Todapt – email
https://leadiq.com/account/plans  – profiling, emails
Panda Doc – contracts, sow, stripe for recurring billing
      Custom token/fields
Sendbloom – good for workflows
> Leadsboost – data
Uber conference
Hunter – email
> Banana Tag – cleaner
Drift > Zapier > Slack
> Crunchbase
CharlieApp – meeting prep data

Any suggestions? (Should there be a collaborative MAB community wiki?)

FYI, I have a list of tips on "Selling Out" at http://bit.ly/TipsOnSellingOut

David Cutler
Managing Director - www.CreativeChaos.co
617-331-7852  -  dcutler@creativechaos.co

About MAB
Managing an Agency Business (MAB) is a quarterly event series focused on 
bringing Boston-area agency founders/owners/managers together to discuss 
the 'business' of running an agency. Topics of conversation include business 
development, operational management, developing culture and anything other 
than the actual services you offer your clients. MAB is not another networking 
event for hand shaking and business card swapping but rather an intimate 
gathering of peers looking to share their trials/tribulations in building successful 
agency businesses.

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