Mobile and B2B Marketing: Do They Mix?

B2B and Mobile Marketing - Adrian ParkerThough overall mobile usage and adoption is skyrocketing, a recent survey by the Content Marketing Institute reveals the majority of B2B marketers didn’t get the memo. Only 1/3 of B2B Marketers have mobile optimized content and less than 25% have mobile applications. The modern business decision maker is perpetually seeking information to inform her long, sometimes complex path to purchase. Mobile screens and connected experiences represent a potent opportunity to get right in front of her face, literally.

Today I had the opportunity to present at the B2B Digital Edge Live Conference in San Francisco. I’m sharing a few concepts that inform why, how and where Intuit’s Accounting Professionals Division is integrating mobile opportunities into their marketing mix.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Top 7 Distinctions Between Weak and Strong Leaders

top 7 distinctions weak strong - adrian parker

Leading people is one of the most critical and challenging skills on this planet.  Aside from parenthood – which has many similarities – there aren’t many competencies that universally possess equal amounts of hope and horror depending on how you wield their power.

Leadership isn’t new.  Each year we spend more than $60 billion on leadership development programs, books, articles and classes to crack the code on how to successfully guide human organizations to a desired goal.  More often than not, they fail.  Why?  Because people don’t like change.  Both managers and direct reports are naturally resistant to change and leadership training is 3 times more effective at teaching knowledge than it is in changing behavior.  Simply put, knowing how to effectively lead and being an effective leader are two very different things.

As I mentioned in an earlier post about learning to lead, I’ve been leading teams for the past several years and I also invest a meaningful amount of resources into honing my own abilities.  Through direct and indirect experiences I’ve compiled this list of the top 7 distinctions between weak and strong leaders.

1. Weak leaders outsource their decisions. Strong leaders outsource their thinking.  Good leaders are like General Managers of sports teams: they put the right guys in the right roles but take ownership of the outcome.  Ineffective leaders, instead, will push partners, agencies and peers to make the tough decisions in an effort to diffuse potential failure or downgrade their accountability.

2. Weak leaders avoid confrontation. Strong leaders are comfortable with uncomfortable conversations.  All results-driven leaders relentlessly guard their time, their focus and their vision.  Just like the uncomfortable “no” is the only way to protect your time, the uncomfortable performance evaluation is the only way to protect your team.  Strong managers aren’t heartless ogres but they are OK with facing issues head on.  As GE business titan Jack Welch said, “The biggest cowards are managers who don’t let people know where they stand.”

3. Weak leaders manage by consensus. Strong leaders aren’t afraid to walk alone.  Lead long enough and you’ll inevitably come across a turn in the road where you find yourself walking alone.  The times when the vision is the fuzziest are the times when a leader longs for support the most.  It’s easy to succumb to the desire to be popular and change course for safer seas.  The only problem is, consensus is like the wind – it won’t tell you which way is True North.  Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO, recently shared his experience during Amazon’s early days.  “One thing that I have learned within the first couple of years of starting the company is that inventing and pioneering requires a willingness to be misunderstood for long periods of time.”  Strong leaders are sometimes lone nuts.

 4. Weak leaders seek approval. Strong leaders earn respect.  In the wake of the 9/11 tragedies, Former President George W. Bush achieved a 90% approval rating in 2001, the highest in the history of the poll.  By 2008 it had plummeted to just 25%, one of the lowest ever recorded.  Approval is a great force to have in your sails but a leader’s journey can not depend on approval alone.  Respect, however, is much harder to earn, making it that much more difficult to erode away in the face of misunderstanding.

 5. Weak leaders see feedback as a pain. Strong leaders see feedback as a gift.  A few years ago I had lunch with a senior VP at the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group and he shared a phrase I’ve been using ever since – “feedback is a gift.”  He discouraged me from becoming a “yes but.”  These are the leaders who politely dismiss your perspective with the simple introductory phrase “Yes… but (insert excuse here).” “Yes… but I don’t have time to explain to you why we’re changing strategies.”  Yes… but you don’t understand the big picture.”  Weak leaders avoid feedback because it requires true humility to accept criticism in a helpful manner.  Pride hates feedback.

 6. Weak leaders focus on events and emotions. Strong leaders focus on results and relationships.  The urgent will always be the enemy of the important.  The valuable work that propels your team into tomorrow and truly makes an impact is always postponable because today has more than enough distractions.  Weak leaders stay so mired in the day-to-day maintenance of egos, emotions and entitlement that real results become a distant mirage.  Effective executives drive for results by putting relationships and resources into proper perspective and concentrate on the critical few areas where superior performance will produce outstanding results.  As Peter Drucker admonished, “Do first things first and second things not at all.”

 7. Weak leaders assume they’re strong and don’t ever change. Strong leaders acknowledge they’re weak and embrace change.  Growth comes through resistance.  Like a runner training to conquer a steep incline, as we overcome various degrees of difficulty it increases our ability to take on even greater loads in the future.  The truth is this: being weak is a prerequisite for being strong.  Yet the only way to stay strong is to intentionally put yourself in situations where you are required to grow.  It sounds counter-intuitive but it’s the secret to how the good get better, the rich get richer and the strong get stronger.  When you invest in yourself the interest always compounds in your favor.

We’re all weak in some areas but strong leaders know it’s not OK to simply dismiss your shortcomings and it’s never OK to give up.  Strong leaders find a way and weak leaders find an excuse.  The leadership journey is just that, a series of opportunities to better yourself by giving yourself away to people and causes bigger than yourself.

What do you think?  Would love to hear your opinions on the key characteristics that you believe separate weak and strong leaders. 

11 Comments

Filed under Leadership, Learnings & Insight

4 Things I Learned From A 26-Year-Old Marketing Director

4 Things I Learned from 26 yr Old Marketing Director -Adrian Parker

Several years ago in New York City I met a young guy doing fairly big things. Only 5 years out of college, he had been handpicked to lead marketing, public relations and advertising for the retail division of Liz Claiborne, what was then a $4.8 billion Fortune 500 fashion manufacturer. He named his own salary and secured a semi-corner office in the Empire State Building.

As Director of Marketing, his leadership peers were at least 10 years his senior and had spent several years in the fashion industry, a new vertical for the young up-and-comer.  When we first met, what struck me about him was his apparent confidence – some would say arrogance – and professional demeanor that seemed well beyond his years.  As we got to know one another, inevitably the subject of his age and “success” came up. He shared a few things that I’ve taken to heart throughout my career.

1) Don’t let people despise your age or use it against you. Misperceptions about demographics are part of life.  Age, race, gender and other characteristics are words that describe you, not define you.  Only you can do that.

2) Learn quickly but be honest about what you don’t know.  Great leaders are good learners.  Every new role comes with a knowledge gap that you must quickly close in order to add value to the organization.  It also helps immensely to do a personal audit of your professional assets and liabilities so you can improve in critical areas.

3) Recognize your opponents and allies before they pick a side.  Usually it takes about 100 days to accurately size up the architecture of an enterprise: skills, staff, systems, strategy, etc.  Early buddies may be getting close to figure you out.  Those co-workers that at first seemed stand-offish may just be more guarded than others. Be careful about who you align with and attempt to stay above any existing tensions until you can diagnose why they exist.

4) Lean in to your strengths.  He was a creator, an innovator and a change maker. The iconic Liz Claiborne was in desperate need of his skills and he knew how to quickly move the brand needle.  A key success element to any position is knowing the specific job you were hired to do and the role you fill.  In his case, the fashion house had plenty of style gurus but not many brand drivers.  He knew his role and where he could be accretive to the vision.

As you may have guessed, that 26-year-old corporate stud muffin was me.  I learned all these things because I really didn’t do any of them with the level of diligence that I would have liked to.  In hindsight I can glean powerful pearls of insight so I’m grateful for the lessons learned.

It’s funny how life is lived moving forward but understood looking backward. Happy learning.

The good ol' NYC days when I had a little hair, lots of clothes and a 1.5 hour commute.

The good ol’ NYC days when I had a little hair, lots of clothes and a 1.5 hour commute.

7 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

What To Do While You’re Waiting To Be Discovered

Waiting to be discovered - Adrian Parker

Most of us are waiting, wanting or wishing for something.  I am.  I’m waiting to meet my firstborn son in a few months.  I’m waiting for what lies ahead in my career.  I’m wishing for a better me.

I’m not alone. Recent research suggests that we’re all wired to wait longer for bigger rewards.  When given a choice between small rewards that are immediate and large rewards that are delayed, we instinctively choose long term success.  It seems waiting is natural but it’s how we wait that makes all the difference.

The 30-something hopeless romantic, the table-waiting pop singer and the self-published blogger are all waiting for a moment when dreams and opportunity intersect.  They’re waiting for a chance to be someone else’s solution.  Waiting for that defining moment when Morpheus offers Neo the red pill and changes life as we know it.  They’re waiting to be discovered.

waldo image

There’s only one problem.  No one’s waiting for you.  The few people doing the discovering aren’t waiting for you to show up.  In fact, they don’t even know you exist.  There is no American Idol for your dream or X-Factor for your future. No one holds open auditions for roles, assignments or challenges that really matter.  Instead they look for people who are already doing what you’re waiting to do.

Why wait for lightning to strike when you can make your own storm?  Your next big break, soul mate or dream job will find you when you start working.  Simply put, there’s a right and a wrong way to wait.  A wait that produces results is productive.  A wait that prolongs worry is unproductive.  As someone who has been on both sides of the coin and learned a little about being the waiter and the waitee, I’ll offer a few tips for things to do while waiting to be discovered.

Work More

Why wait when you can work? Work produces energy and results that just beg for attention.  Get busy in a small way each day.  When I started my own marketing company in 2007 I had big ideas and zero customers.  Once I began to actually plan the work and work the plan, clients rolled in.

Talk Less

I’ve never hired the candidate who wants the job the most.  I hire the one who produces results.  Talk less about how bad you want an opportunity and showcase how good you already are.  When your work speaks for you, people notice.  Increased competition means everyone is looking for the best and they have easy access to technology and information to help them decide if you are or aren’t.  Your reputation should create breadcrumbs that lead opportunities to you.

Refocus

Eliminate this phrase from your human hard drive: “This job is perfect for my career because…” Same goes for relationships, movie roles or whatever else you’re cooking up.  Focus on how you solve their problem rather than how they can be your solution.  What pisses you off?  What gets you super excited?  What pains you constantly? Focus on the problems you intend to solve and the skills you need to prepare for them.

Be Patient

When you can’t be useful, be patient.  During the course of most major endeavors you will inevitably reach your end – the point where you’re not in control.  When the money, time, contacts or desire are running on “E” it’s a great time to park and be still.  This one’s tough.  When my business hit a wall it felt like being stuck in quicksand.  Taking time to quiet my thoughts and engage my creativity was much more productive than flailing around for a quick-fix. (Note: Here’s what to do if you ever get stuck in quicksand)

Seek Help

It’s easier to help someone who is already helping themselves.  Once you’ve invested in pursuing your path don’t be afraid to ask someone for counsel, support or even a helping hand.  Oftentimes you have an arsenal of people ready, willing and able to pitch in if you’ve won their hearts.

The greatest strength is gained by waits.  Though it can be hard, resist the urge to seek short-term solutions for endeavors that are worth the effort.  There’s no shame in waiting for what you truly want as long as you’re doing it in a focused, productive and positive manner.

What are you waiting on? Any tips you would add for your patiently impatient peers?

2 Comments

Filed under Leadership, Learnings & Insight

Put A Ring On It: Moving Beyond Social Engagement

Social media has significantly changed business but business is also changing the way we do social media.  How do you measure, monetize and optimize social interactions in a business environment?  Look no further than your marriage.  Everything I’ve learned about social media I got from my wife.  Kinda.

This is a quick share of the presentation slides and a video from the WCG Social Commerce event at SXSW 2013.  I was honored to speak to and learn from some of the most brilliant brands and digital minds around.  Check it out and let me know what you think.

ROI can come from the most important places.  Many thanks to my wife Alisha for being a good sport and awesome partner.

Video created by UPG

Slideshare presentation: Put A Ring On It: Moving Beyond Social Engagement

5 Comments

Filed under Innovation, Interactive Marketing, intuit, Learnings & Insight

Why The World Deserves A Better You

The world needs a better you.

Why? Because I need you and you need me.

My goals and my gifts are the very answer to the question you didn’t know you had. I need your art, your beauty, your voice and your view to bring my dream to fulfillment.

Today’s you isn’t good enough. I need the best you. The you that is long-suffering and patient. The you that’s powered by purpose and a genuine desire to give. The you who has experienced regret and redemption. The you who has loved, loss and led a life worth sharing. Most of all, I need the you who knows it’s not about you at all.

The world needs a better you. It’s not about how much you make, it’s about the difference you make. It’s less about what you want to be called and more about your calling. Your actions outweigh your beliefs. It’s less about you and more about what you do.

Today is a door. Take one step towards being the you the world deserves. If I take that same step we’re already headed in the right direction.

You deserve a better you.

Image

Photo: Brevityness / Creative Commons

2 Comments

Filed under Leadership, Learnings & Insight, Love & Stuff

4 Reasons Your Social Strategy Is Incomplete Without Mobile

It finally happened.  Last year social and mobile tied the knot in a private ceremony and now they’re having kids.  With smartphone adoption in the U.S. surging to new heights and social networking surpassing pornography as the #1 online activity, business as usual is obsolete.  Interactive strategies must now solve for social experiences on a mobile device and mobile content consumed socially.  Anything less is simply insufficient.

At Intuit, we’ve taken this task to heart.  Our CEO Brad Smith is bullish about reimagining our products and services to fully realize the fruits of a social, mobile and global world.  For my team, this means our social and mobile marketing strategies live within the same group and we plan activities simultaneously with collaboration from our web and product partners.  It’s not an easy journey but it is a necessary one.  I believe there are 4 reasons to begin building out a true SoMo (social/mobile) approach to business.

4 Reasons Your Social Strategy is Incomplete Without Mobile

1. A social-only strategy is a job half-done
Brand have an obligation to stay social in a mobile world.  As consumer usage shifts from online/desktop toward mobile, everything has changed.  And nothing has changed.  In Intuit’s accounting professional division, 70% of our accounting and tax professionals are on a smartphone, and about 30% of those professionals are using a tablet.  We’ve evolved our approach to serve customers in their channel of choice.  Users can access software, training, social information and content as easily from a mobile device as they can from their desktop. Concurrently, if you see product information on LinkedIn, a blog or a forum, we’ll also provide that info via email or a representative’s phone call.

Our goal is to “leave no desktop behind.”  We’re still going to support our desktop software users who are more comfortable and confident in that environment.  Meanwhile, we continue to build up capability for the future.  It’s no longer enough to have one page, one language or one mobile device.  The most powerful word-of-mouth marketing tool is a great product experience.  A focus on delighting costumers begins and ends with great product, with marketing being the gracious host.

2. Consumer connections are the offspring of social and mobile getting hitched
Social and mobile proliferation creates limitless opportunity for us to connect with real people.  Customers are engaging on their mobile device or via a social channel long before they visit Intuit.com, call a sales representative or interact with a retail worker.  For Intuit’s accounting professionals division, we now have a virtual seat at that table when customers are having the conversations about our brand. Then we can observe, influence and respond in real-time. It’s also a great opportunity to connect with users in ways that weren’t possible two years ago.  For instance, a tax professional can now do their client’s taxes while they’re on their iPad, sitting on the beach.  A CPA can get trained and certified in QuickBooks Online on their iPhone while they’re waiting in an airport.  After completion, they can even share progress across social channels and tell their clients that they are certified with one click of a button to their Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles.  All made possible by the marriage of SoMo.

3. Technology will only continue to shrink the world, raise the bar and stretch our boundaries
Brands must now be trilingual, with complete mastery of social, mobile and global best practices because customers expect it.  Once you shift to a social, mobile-first mindset, you’re automatically  global because conversations take place anywhere across the world.  No longer is there a barrier.  We recently launched global-ready training that can be viewed on any mobile device across the board, whether it’s Windows, iOS or Android.  We’re exploring global-ready experiences on YouTube page that auto-detect location and adjust language and content settings.  Being device and geography agnostic requires organizational commitments.  For global corporations, it’s inadequate to have one web experience, one language or one mobile device.  Relevancy requires having a portfolio mindset.

4. Brands cannot live by Facebook tabs alone
When I started in social media three-plus years ago, every campaign was centered on a gorgeous Facebook tab with a promotional call to action.  It was a creative extension of your traditional marketing campaign. These days, you need robust photos, video, text and content on the timeline that really create authentic engagement.  It’s no longer enough to build out a core tab function.  Facebook is doing a lot of work to really integrate more of those functions into the mobile dialogue, but for the most part, users are in their newsfeed – wanting to hear from their friends and family.  Not only does it provide a barrier for brands, but also it requires we earn our way into the conversation. Simply put, it’s sink or swim time.

As always, perfection is elusive so the focus should be on progressing your efforts year over year.  Would love to hear your thoughts on how social and mobile intersect to impact how you go-to-market, or not.

3 Comments

Filed under Learnings & Insight, Mobile, Social Media

10 Career Commandments to Learn in Your 20s

Modern life is rife with opportunities to make your mark, forge your own path or even fall flat on your face.  As knowledge work becomes the norm, there is no playbook for young professionals who have yet to learn how to manage their careers and personal brands in the information age.  Also, as competition for promotions and positions goes global, managing your professional reputation starts the moment you sign up for a Google+ account.  Now more than ever, careers are planned looking forward but understood looking backward.

How can early career professionals ensure they are following the North Star and building a truly successful foundation?  I’ve cobbled together some hard learned lessons that I often share with younger movers-and-shakers.  Take a read and let me know what you think of these 10 Career Commandments.

10 Commandments 20 Somethings

1. Reputation is everything.  There isn’t a short cut to building integrity but there are innumerable ways to cut your time short by breeding mistrust, dishonesty and conflict.  Stay far away from grey areas even when they seem shiny.  Remember, today’s emotional outbursts can easily be tomorrow’s missed opportunity.  People talk. (See earlier blog post: “3 Steps To Discovering Your Personal Brand“)

2. Fry the big fish first.  Contrary to popular opinion, it’s easier to start at the bottom of a world-class company than to squeeze in mid-career.  Intense competition only gets hotter in the most desirable industries and corporations.  If the Fortune 500 are on your hit list, don’t be afraid to start actively pursuing relevant opportunities via internships or entry-level assignments.

3. Mo’ money, mo’ problems.  After graduating from Florida A&M, I relocated to the NYC area and discovered my marketing coordinator salary didn’t go far in the Big Apple.  I worked hard and got promoted. Then I worked hard because I was promoted.  And so on.  As income increases so do expectations, visibility, rewards and risks.  Building wealth through employment isn’t impossible, just be sure what you’re signing up for.  How much you save is far more important than how much you earn. (Required Reading: Stop Acting Rich)

4. Don’t read your own press.  The biggest career blunders I’ve ever witnessed were the result of too much pride and not enough reality.  One former peer who worked in sports and entertainment marketing was so enamored of the celebrity lifestyle of his clients that he actually began to believe he was one of them.  He flaunted his Rolodex and glitzy relationships to anyone who would listen.  Then one day his wealth of unfulfilled promises became the very weapons of his demise.  Let your work speak louder than you do.  Never gauge your self-worth simply by work performance because failures are inevitable.

5. Bust your butt.  When I was a 20-year-old intern at Footaction USA, the CEO shared a simple, yet powerful piece of advice: “Bust your butt in your 20s.”  Hard work doesn’t guarantee greatness but nothing great was ever accomplished without hard work.

6. If you’re explaining you’re losing.  Unless sincerely requested, your boss’ s boss needs enough information to make decisions and anything more is wasted time.  Your confident communication of the right amount of information goes a long way in instilling trust in your abilities.  Like a former CMO said, “When I ask for the time don’t tell me how to make a watch.”

7. Know your role.  Were you hired for your digital creative chops or experience with Six Sigma process improvement?  Is your team positioned to launch a new product line or turnaround a lagging division?  It’s critical to know both your official and informal job duties from the lens of leadership.  If you want to change paths, let someone know and be sure you’re using your skills to solve an actual business need, not simply a personal passion.  As Greg McKeown noted, “At any one time there is only one piece of real estate we can “own” in another person’s mind.” (Required Reading: The #1 Career Mistake Capable People Make)

8. Work horses vs. show horses.  Busting your butt and working hard are now requirements to keep your job, not to thrive.  The “work horse” efforts of your 20s are the building blocks for more visible, far-reaching “show horse” projects.  Work horses manage projects, events and details.  Show horses may focus more on people, expectations and strategy.  We’re all called to be both at various points in our careers but knowing when is the key.

9. Define success for yourself.  No career nightmare is worse than pursuing someone else’s dream.  A book, conference, blog post or webinar can provide perspective but the job of discovering and pursuing your purpose is all yours.  Decide what you stand for, what’s important and where you’re headed.  Then deliberately work towards it with focus, fervor and flexibility.  (Required Reading: How Will You Measure Your Life?)

10. Opportunity knocks when you’re ready.  Professional and personal doors are rarely opened when we want them.  More often than not, I’m resigned to wait, listen and learn in preparation for what I thought I was ready for.  Thank God.  Sometimes the closed doors are there to protect me from an ill-conceived idea or an unknown, invisible threat.  Other times the closed doors are there for me to showcase exactly how bad I want something.  Knowing one from the other is crucial.

What qualifies me to create 10 career commandments?  I’m a former 20-something know-it-all turned 30-something student of life.  Let me know what you think.

5 Comments

Filed under Leadership, Learnings & Insight

Why Leaders Should Learn By Walking, Not Watching

It’s easier to learn by watching.

You observe and inquire, research and report.  Gathering information and adding it to your own experiences is how many ideas are sparked.  It’s a mental exercise.

But learning by walking is different.  You have to get in the cage and interact with your customer, target, audience, competitor and even yourself.  It’s a human exercise.

Watching gives you control.  Walking gives you a connection.

Watching change is something you do. Walking changes you.

In 2013 I’m doing a lot more walking.  Watching is so 2012.

Walking on the beach san diego

Leave a comment

Filed under Leadership, Learnings & Insight

How Do You Drive Innovation? Intuit Wants to Know

Everyone has a story to tell about a time when their innovation made an impact on a campaign, client or in the community.  Intuit wants to hear your story.

We’re looking for 15 individuals to crown as “Intuit Innovators.”  From Nov. 8 until Dec. 19, small business owners and financial professionals from across the country can share their stories of innovation on the Intuit Accountants Facebook page. Whether it be serving clients with technology or supporting the community by giving back, they can submit their stories via video, text or photo.  Winners receive Apple iPads and Intuit Rewards Cards for up to $100.

Watch our quick Intuit Innovators video below for an overview of the campaign and how it works! 

Can’t wait to hear the stories.

Official Rules

Intuit Accountants Mobile Site

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Innovation, intuit, Social Media