Ultraviolet Keynote: The Future of Marketing with Crystal Washington
Bobby Tichy: I got to say, I'm pretty disappointed that you haven't become a viral social media star.
Cole Fisher: I don't really have that much social media. I'm on LinkedIn. But, I'm not huge on the Insta, Snaps, and whatnot.
Bobby Tichy: What about TikTok? Are you big on TikTok?
Cole Fisher: No, I'm not on TikTok either. When social media marketing was Facebook Marketing and Facebook Ads and thinks like that, and Twitter was becoming a thing, I was just all over it like," Oh, you could use Foursquare to check in." I was all over all that stuff.
Bobby Tichy: inaudible.
Cole Fisher: At the time, it was just so hard to make any return. It was just hard for me to spin it as a marketer, to spin it to customers like," This is a good idea. This is something to dip your toe into for right now." But, it doesn't have the staying power at this point and you're not getting your money back at this point. You're getting brand awareness. It was great for brand awareness and things like that. But, at that point, there wasn't lots of mobile conversions and checkout, and digital pay wasn't as accessible. It was hard for me to keep pressing social media to ad agency customers and to clients, when I couldn't prove the case myself.
Bobby Tichy: I feel like you were a check- in person on Foursquare.
Cole Fisher: Oh, I was. Yeah. I was a mayor of multiple locations, including my office. McAlister's Deli, that was awesome. But, yeah. No, I was big. Foursquare, I thought, was awesome. Actually, I think Foursquare's still around. I think they were Tetherball or something like that beforehand. There was some acquisition and Foursquare became a thing. And then, when Facebook check- ins and things like that took over, it was like," Ah, well, everybody has Facebook. You have to download Foursquare." The accessibility thing is shot. But, Foursquare, I thought that was the coolest thing. If you were a mayor, you got 50% off your first appetizer at a restaurant or whatever, things like that. Little specials like that, little kickbacks. That was cool for a hot minute.
Bobby Tichy: Yeah. They're still around. They brand themselves now as a leading location technology platform. Obviously, they're going after a different market. They bought Unfolded a year ago, which I don't know what Unfolded is. But, I don't like unfolded clothes.
Cole Fisher: Heyo! What about you? I bet you ran from social media for the longest time.
Bobby Tichy: Yeah. I'm not in it, as they say. But...
Cole Fisher: I'm hip. I'm cool.
Bobby Tichy: I like finding a cool deal on marketplace. That counts.
Cole Fisher: Right? That's cool.
Bobby Tichy: Yeah.
Cole Fisher: Yeah. Mark, that's one of those things. The accessibility point, they bumped all the location services out of the way when Facebook came in with check ins. Marketplace bumped out the Craigslists. Because, there were dozens of those types of... Little things like that just became so easy and accessible. It just pops up now as a feature. Your only hope is one of those other companies, those like specialists like location services or community trade and swaps, things like that. Your only hope is to be acquired by Facebook. Otherwise, they're just going to build the technology to beat you with it.
Bobby Tichy: Well, I'm sure people would love to continue listen to us talking about things that we don't use, that they're probably interested in because it's part of their everyday lives and jobs. As we continue diving into the Ultraviolet series, we've got Ryan McCambridge, who is the SVP of strategy here at Lev. He is joined by Crystal Washington. Crystal is a technology strategist. She's a certified futurist, which I don't know, how do you become a certified futurist?
Cole Fisher: I'm pretty sure you and I don't have to worry about that, with me putting all those chips on Foursquare and things like that. No, that panned out. I'm not going to be that anytime soon.
Bobby Tichy: I mean, I think we need to become futurists.
Cole Fisher: Pretty sure you can order a crystal ball online.
Bobby Tichy: The Futurist Institute. There's courses. There's all kinds of things. Future of finance. Man, that's pretty cool.
Cole Fisher: Yeah? Sign me up.
Bobby Tichy: Yeah, I know. We should look into it.
Cole Fisher: Of course.
Bobby Tichy: But, anyway, Crystal, she's also the author of One Tech Action and the Social Media Why. She joins Ryan to share her unique perspective about what marketers might expect to see on their horizon, their ever changing world. They also dive a little bit into the metaverse, which we know absolutely nothing about. Hope you enjoy and we'll be back for completely unrelated.
Ryan McCambridge: All right. Good afternoon, everybody. Happy Wednesday. I hope you're enjoying day two of Ultraviolet. Thank you so much for finding time in your day to spend some time in our last keynote. I'm extremely excited about today's keynote with Crystal Washington. My name's Ryan McCambridge. I'm the senior vice president of Channel and Strategy here at Lev. With that, I'm excited to introduce our speaker that I get to interview today, Crystal Washington. Crystal is a author, technology strategist and futurist. She works with organizations that want to leverage technology to increase profits and productivity. As a technology strategist and certified futurist, she takes complex social media app and web topics and makes them easy to understand and accessible for everyday people. As one of Forbes 50 leading female futurists, she appears weekly on season two of the Emmy nominated show Life 2. 0. And, she's appeared in numerous publications, including Entrepreneur and Bloomberg Business Week. She is also the author of the books One Tech Action and the Social Media Why. Crystal, we're thrilled to have you. Thank you for joining us today.
Crystal Washington: I'm excited to be here. Thanks for having me.
Ryan McCambridge: Absolutely. I hope you've had a great week. We are just so excited to have your energy with us today as we continue on day two of Ultraviolet. We've had a great day one. Day two's been going really well. We had a hybrid event yesterday, Crystal, where it really felt like we were getting back to the real world. Seeing actual human beings that are outside of our family in a venue that was made for social gathering and fun at our concert. I just want to thank our marketing team for putting on such a incredible event in a hybrid model that just worked out really, really, really well. We're looking forward to next year. Hopefully, having everything in person. That leads me to my first question, Crystal. We're coming out of hibernation. At least, we're all hopeful that we're coming out of hibernation. Now, that we're doing that, how do you see the future of work? Especially around the social engagement aspect of how companies and people are going to engage with each other. Because, when we were even out there yesterday, we're all like," How do we do this? Do we have to relearn this? Are there underlying rules that apply to us now?" I'm really curious, as you're seeing these organizations that you're helping and speaking with, what are you seeing and how are you advising them on what to prepare for and what the future of work looks like?
Crystal Washington: What's interesting is when we talk about the future of work, we're playing the game as the rules are being written right now. We've gone through this situation where things have shifted and now there's no one size fits all answer. We're seeing differences in industries. Ryan, I'm sure you've seen this. For some of the big tech companies, their people are refusing to come back. They're just saying," Absolutely not. I can be recruited over here." Because, there's also this worker shortage. In some industries where people are used to face to face, like travel and tourism, they are craving to be more around each other and also around their clients as well. So, there's not a one size fits all, but I think the important messaging here is that we get a chance to drive change. We get a chance to see how can we shift up our company culture. Are we a company that's going to go forward hybrid? Or, where we work less days during the week and some more remote? Are we an organization that's going to allow people to work virtual that want to? And, if so, from a social standpoint, that's actually going to create some interesting issues. The New York Times ran an article a few months ago, where it was showing that companies were already divesting in some of their real estate. They were starting to get rid of some of their real estate. The money that they were saving in real estate because less people were coming into the office and they didn't see that changing in the foreseeable future, they were then taking some of that money and they were investing in more and more team building activities. They were having things where they were bringing people together. Again, in different places, rules are a little bit different. And, actually creating things where they were doing nature things or bringing them together for some other type of fun event. So, the money that's being taken out of real estate is being invested into people. One of the biggest challenges though, as we look at the future of work, is the socialization, even in terms of collaboration. I'm sure most of us have figured out it's a little bit trickier to collaborate with the team strictly remotely. Some of the tools that we use for collaboration are technical based tools. So, you get in there, you're editing things together, you're mind mapping together. But, what we're not having are those spontaneous water cooler conversations that might spark a great idea. Or, you saw something earlier and you mentioned it to the person over here and you think this might be an interesting ad or this might be something cool to add to our marketing campaign. What happens when we don't have those spontaneous interactions? Then, depending on the industry you're in and I know this isn't just a one simple answer, but I think it's important that we dig deep into this. Some people are missing that interaction and they're needing ways to connect. Some companies have brought in people who have never met their coworkers. They've been working for a company a year or more and have never met them face to face. I say all of these things to say, we have an opportunity to create the future we want within our organization. But, we can't force it on anyone. It actually takes us looking at the other people within our organizations, pulling them, getting their input, and then creating something cohesive that everyone can take part in and is proud of.
Ryan McCambridge: I think that's really interesting that you bring that up. Because, as we were having the concert we were talking to you about yesterday, 80% of the people that came, I didn't know. I've never met in person. Lev had the fortune of really having an opportunity to grow as an organization that helps people rethink engagement with people. This challenging time was a real opportunity for us to really be thought leaders for our customers and our prospects. We had this awesome opportunity of growth. Lev's growth was always centered around this idea of culture. What I'm hearing from you is really the culture is what's going to drive what we do next, whether we're in a pandemic, post pandemic, next pandemic. It's up to us to really decide. And, to your point, employees expect their voices to be heard these days.
Crystal Washington: I agree. I think this is very similar. Everyone that's with us right now, from a marketing perspective, there used to be a one size fits all for the most part way to market it. If we go back 30 years, you marketed for the most part on television or in print publications. But, now, depending on how wide your base is, you might do some email marketing. You might do some retargeting. But, you know what, some of your people may not be that active online. If you have some people that are traditionalists, maybe, you might have to still mail things. Now, what we're seeing is this diversification, even in our internal customers as well and what their desires are. We're just working with that. I'll say the benefit to this, I don't know if enough people talk about this, is that when we do have a hybrid or a remote work experience, our talent pool suddenly widens. The more people we have access to with the more diversity, you have more diversity of thought and ideas. Now, if you can start recruiting people from other parts of the country, maybe from other parts of the world, that normally you wouldn't have had at your organization, now the breadth of your ideas has expanded tremendously.
Ryan McCambridge: You're absolutely right. When we go back and look at how Lev started, that was really the catalyst to our success. Where we always wanted to find the right person. Didn't matter where they were. We embraced remote cultures and found a culture that grew so that these kind of engagements and interactions could happen for us to be successful. Because, aptitude and attitude is what's going to accelerate your company forward, not where you live and where you sit.
Crystal Washington: I love that.
Ryan McCambridge: Super insightful. As we're moving to the next question that I have, I want to set some context for the folks that we're going to be talking to. I've had the pleasure of getting to talk to you a couple times before this. One, your energy is infectious. Just absolutely... I can't stop grinning that I had this opportunity, Crystal. Again, thank you. But, two, I wanted to take the opportunity to really talk about some of these topics that people are hearing. Less about the tactics. We'll get into some of the tactics at the end. We'll anchor in some of that.
Crystal Washington: Okay.
Ryan McCambridge: I do want to talk about some of these really interesting, or you might even call them crazy concepts, that all of these people that are on this call are listening to and hearing and being prepared for. That's where I want to take it and that's why I call it the future of marketing. Is it really the future? We don't know. But, I want to dig deep into your perspective and context as we get into some of these. I think we're going to have some fun and laugh along the way. I think this next topic is one that makes me giggle a lot. But, maybe it's super serious and we should be taking it serious. But, it's the metaverse. What does that even mean? I mean, it's something so big that one of the biggest technology companies in the world rebranded and renamed their company Meta. I want to take a moment and ask the first question. Is it a fad or is it the future? If it's the future, what is it?
Crystal Washington: Okay. It's the faddy future. My answer is it's a little bit of both. The interesting thing about the metaverse when we think about it, all this is it's a 3D version of the internet where you live in this alternate reality that's virtual. You can be in this space as an avatar and basically plug in in a different space. Now, what's fascinating about this is that we live in a time, and as marketers we love this, where many of our innovators are more marketers than innovators. We live in a time where, and this is not taking anything away from anyone, brilliant CEOs and innovators are basically repackaging things that have already existed and getting people excited about it. We talk about all these space launches that have happened recently. People are like," Oh my gosh. It's amazing." And, I'm like," I'm pretty sure we did this 50 years ago." But, they're like," It's new." Well, I see where we're going. But, it's not even technically space. Know that what I'm about to say, part of it's going to be in jest. Some of it's very serious, but I take a very pragmatic approach to these things. Because, it's very easy to get caught up in the hype of things and forget to look at the utility. I think when we talk about is this the future, it's the future because it's already the present. The metaverse has existed for a long time. Anyone who's a gamer has been in the metaverse for years. I live in Houston, Texas, and I remember when Hurricane Harvey hit. Stressful time. My whole city's underwater. I was on Oculus, my Rift, at the time, before the newer one. I was on my Oculus Rift hanging out with aliens and strange people just to detach. We've already had metaverses where we can communicate and connect with people. Now, the question is, going forward, what is the utility we're attaching to it? Who is it going to help? I think when we start brainstorming, that's when we start to see where the opportunities lie. Yes, we have organizations, large organizations, that are already putting tons of money into it. I want to say Facebook might have invested over 10 billion, I think that's the number, and obviously changed their name to Meta. So, they're banking on this. I mean, Facebook is basically... Meta is putting all their eggs in this basket. But, who else does this help? That's where the opportunities lie. Are there opportunities for tourism within this? Are there opportunities for people with disabilities? What about people with social anxiety disorders and other types of things where maybe you can do some type of treatment through these networks? Are there opportunities for family reunions through here or learning? Or, different types of meetings? I think the thing that many of us have learned over the last two years is that virtual doesn't replace in- person. Most of us figured that out. Anyone who had a Zoom Thanksgiving or Zoom whatever holiday you might celebrate according to your culture, knows that while we were thankful that we had access to these kinds of tools, it's not the same. But, it can allow us to connect in some pretty amazing ways. While we crave that in- person, we can do so much virtually like we're doing right now. Is there a space for some types of meetings there? Maybe for the international or when there's, not expecting any future pandemics, but any type of world events where it doesn't make sense for people to come in person, might it be a more immersive experience and closer to real life if we're having this within the metaverse. I really think what organizations and what professionals need to do right now is to start mapping out where the utility lies. Who will benefit from this? I think, right now, most of what we hear is flash and shiny. But, we have to consider the whole picture of utility. Additionally, we really have to look at our target markets. It's kind of like, you might remember with social media, and then with certain types of email marketing, there was one point where I saw so many organizations shifting completely there. Some of these organizations had traditionalist and elder baby boomers as their target market. And, they weren't servicing them properly. They weren't getting the message out to that group. So, we also have to consider, when we talk about what's the future, who is going to adopt this. It's not going to be our entire customer base. Some of our customers might be more open than others. What is the learning curve? What are we offering in this space? I say all of that to say the metaverse is most definitely the future, but much of what we're hearing now is still a little faddy. It's still a little gamerish. Oh, you can go here and hang out with people. I went into one of the virtual worlds a couple weeks ago, because it's my job to check out things and see how they work. And, I got hit on by a 10 year old. I got out of there quick. Some of these are strange places.
Ryan McCambridge: Wow.
Crystal Washington: With my grown lady voice. I was like," Oh, this is highly uncomfortable. Unplug, unplug, unplug." I think this is the brave new world and we have an opportunity to shape this as well. It is coming, but is it coming in the way that we're expecting? Or, can we even find more useful ways to use this 3D universe? I think that's the question.
Ryan McCambridge: Two quick thoughts. The first is, one, I like to game a lot. As you were sharing some of these thoughts, it made me go into thinking of how do I engage in gaming and where do I spend my time? You want to know what's interesting as the metaverse shifts, is that the games that are the most successful in the metaverse, we'll call Fortnite and League of Legends and those kinds of games, I play a game called Smite. Not as popular, but still pretty popular. Very good revenue stream for them. They're all free to play. Accessibility is instant. You don't have to have anything but a device that can play it, and it's micro transactions. Believe it or not, those games are far more successful on their revenue streams that you're seeing giants like Activision Blizzard and Epic going to these models. They dominated the midnight release for this game that was$ 60 that you had to go to a storefront to buy, to now having instant access and fully relying on people to buy micro transactions. It will be interesting to see if that unfolds in other things like healthcare. Could you imagine if you showed up someplace to get an eye exam and the exam was free because the transaction for the actual lenses or the contacts that you were going to buy are so lucrative or supported by some kind of micro transaction from a marketing organization to get their branding in that person's office. Let's just say," Hey, I'm an exclusive provider of a certain type of contact lens. I want to have that exclusivity. Give free exams. We will pay for that and you sell our contacts. We had a customer who was in the denture space asking the same thing. He's like," Once somebody gets in and has their exam done, it's 95% close rate. The problem is getting people to the exam." We actually challenged him, and this was three years ago, but this was pretty forward thinking then, was why don't you partner with Uber? If they say they can't make it, say," We're going to have an Uber show up to your house, pick you up and bring you to your appointment." It's just so interesting as you start to think about the metaverse. Is it going to be like Ready Player One? Probably not. But, there's going to be aspects of it where the smart marketing teams that are wanting to be more on the bleeding edge of how they can engage with other consumers of their products in the supply chain. Those products might start to become free because the access actually brings people and actually drives loyalty. I spend more, I shouldn't say this, but I spend way more on this game than I ever would if I had paid$ 60 and had all the content up front. It's shifting...
Crystal Washington: I'm sure. All the additional merch and different things you can buy within these games, the revenue earning potential is astounding. I also think, you talk about the future of the metaverse, it really depends on, and we know the technology's constantly improving, but what the technology can do. For instance, Google has Project Starline where they're basically... You're in the metaverse with someone else and it's creating basically the avatar being them, but very precise. They're still eking out the details on that now, but imagine your family member who you haven't seen in forever. Or, going back to that meeting scenario. And, it really is just like them sitting there. It really looks like them. Well, now that's a little different. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with meeting up with family, friends and other people that are dressed as pandas or dancing spoons. But, it's different when you're showing up as yourself in that space.
Ryan McCambridge: And then, the last point I wanted to make is we kind of pressure tested this. We had to. I think we got decades worth of learning in a two and a half year pandemic to understand what are people's tolerances for just a total virtual world. I think, to your point, and I'm experiencing it too, social engagement is a necessity of the human condition. We need physical touch, whether we're shaking people's hands, fist bumping, celebrating together. That kind of interaction is just so critically important. And, how much business is done in the hallway? Like you said, innovation is going to be predicated on us having some level of hybrid environment going forward. I'm really excited to see how this plays out, and I'm really excited for our customers and for Lev to try it out ourselves and really find where we fit in the future metaverse, if that even continues to be how we address it.
Crystal Washington: Right.
Ryan McCambridge: Transitioning to another topic, and this one really is so interesting to me. Because, being in the tech space, I have a lot of friends who are in the tech space. And, I'm seeing in droves, and I mean in droves, Crystal, people ditching their very cushy, safe job and going and starting up startups in the Web3 space. If you listen to them talk, they talk as if this, if you're not into Web3, you are going to be irrelevant. They say it is now, it is not tomorrow. It is now, and you're already behind. What is Web3, first of all? It's blockchain, it's crypto, it's NFT. It's all the things that you're hearing. But, from your perspective, again, I'm going to ask the same question. Fad or is it future? Because, people are going all in on cryptocurrencies. They're going all in on NFTs. And, candidly, it's one of those things when you're like," I've got to be missing what this is." Because it just, in some cases, just seems so interesting that I would pay thousands of dollars for a picture that somebody else could have as an NFT. But, marketers are hearing this. Get your NFT strategy together. So, Web3, unpack that for us a little bit, Crystal.
Crystal Washington: I actually created notes for this because I want to be succinct, but give the best definition possible. The way I'd like to explain it, it's basically a decentralized online ecosystem that is based on blockchain. We have to understand that is the underpinning of it. A lot of that eagerness we heard about blockchain starting years ago, and I've bought into crypto way before it was popular. So, I'm someone who's very familiar with it, but minus the hype factors. Again, I'm the pragmatist. That's one part of it. But, the most important thing that we hear from the people that are the believers in it, is how it gets rid of the gatekeepers. They talk about everyone owning a piece of it. Now, we have this more democratic web. To that I say, no. The thought, yes. But, in the end, the same thing... Let's go back to social media. In the beginning of social networks, they were not really commercialized. They were all about those interactions. And then, over time, companies come in. Thank goodness, because we're talking to marketers. We're talking to people that do this. They come in and it shifts the dynamic a little bit. Same thing with the internet. Originally, it really wasn't about commerce. It was about connections. It was about communications. And then, you had the forces. In the beginning, yes. Right now, it is easier to take advantage of applications in that space and to be creative in that space, lay your stakes in there. But, it's not going to stay this wonderful, democratized, everyone has an equal chance. That's just not how things work. I think this is a good time to get in. But, in the long term, I'm not quite sure that's going to be the reality for it. Now, the benefit of it is that it's really on the technology that's running on the blockchain itself. There's a lot of things with blockchain that are underpinning, that are already affecting things in society, the way we do some things in finance, that most people aren't aware of. The challenge when we talk about Web3 is it goes back to there is a communication issue on what it is. When we talk about our potential clients, our current customers, all these folks, getting them to leverage things like NFTs in this space and stuff like that, right now it sounds like jargon. I did a survey of my Facebook followers. It's people of all ages, all over the world. You can see a little bit of everything. I asked them what comes to mind when you hear the word blockchain or NFT or crypto? Give me a word for each of those. By and large, and this is starting with millennials, most people are confused. Now, what's interesting is, as a demographic, Gen X is actually the most active in this space out of any other demographic. It's interesting that it's the folks in the middle. But, we do have to think about our target market and we always have to think about utility. The blessing when it comes to this space, especially when we talk about NFTs, is that what people do understand is community. I don't use this word because it's a little bit problematic from a DEI perspective. But, when we hear about tribes online and people building their communities, well, NFTs allow you to build community and take ownership over particular projects. Yes, some of them are strange and wacky. But, I think we can ignore some of the strange and wacky and think about the actual utility. What communities are people already a part of? When you think about... Ryan, you're gamer. That's a very specific type of person. The gamer mentality. I know because I'm married to a gamer. I'm married to someone who, back in the day, would camp out for games outside of Game Stop. I understand the mentality. There are people that call themselves Sneaker Heads. They get these shoe drops and they run on it and they pay all this money for these shoes immediately online. Who has a cult following? Who has strong community where people want to take ownership? I think there's some opportunities in the grassroots space when it comes to community organizing. There's opportunities for brands that have, again, those cult followings. I personally think that direct sales companies could do amazingly well in the NFT space. We have to think about the psychographics of our customers and our target audience. Depending on their psychographics, that will determine how much time we should invest in this space right now. It's coming to everybody no matter what, but how we utilize it and how much time and energy, I really think should be impacted by what's likely to be the ROI based on our current customers.
Ryan McCambridge: You brought up an interesting point, which was people are confused by it. There's going to have to be a simplification of these marketplaces and exchanges that people buy these off of. Because, to me, that is the point of entry. Going back to when we were talking about the metaverse, the free to play games. Epic took Apple to court over their in- app purchases because one of their main platforms for their game is the Apple ecosystem. People are playing it on their phones. It'll be interesting to see when those exchanges become more simplified or unified. Because, for me even, somebody who reads up about this stuff and really geeks out on it, I still have a hard time with the traceability back to where do I need to go, what currency am I paying it in, what kind of ownership do I have. That said, in your mind, what do you think the timing is on the trajectory of the arrival of Web3 being something that is in our... It's here every day. But, in the lives of everyday people, like an iPhone could be, or a Google phone could be.
Crystal Washington: If I were to guess, and this is a very difficult guess, because there's so many events that can impact timelines. For instance, before I give you my prediction on this, I'll give you an example. QR codes. When they first came out, were they interesting? Were they novel? Were they useful? They were. Were they also goofy because you have to download an app to be able to do it and most people didn't want to take the space? Absolutely. I was one of those people that was like," Unless something dramatic happens, QR codes, not really." But then, the app was built into our phones, whether we had Android or whether we had an iPhone. Then it became easy. Okay, we can scan stuff just by opening our camera. That takes out having to download different apps and figure out the best app to read them. And then, we had the pandemic, where everything was touchless now. Suddenly, everybody started using them when it came to going to restaurants or looking at menus. What was the timeline supposed to be for that? Who could have predicted it? You think about the fact that we've had visual phones since, I want to say the mid nineties, maybe early nineties. Nobody was interested. It was a novel idea. But then, people were like," Do I really want people to see my face?" It wasn't until we had it on smartphones where it became something that people wanted in everyday life. I say all that to say, I am not sure. But, if I were to guess, about three years. But, any kind of world event outside of this space could impact it and make it happen faster.
Ryan McCambridge: That's fair. Yeah. I'm always trying to figure out how we better position from an advisory perspective. Where do you spend your time? Because, there are so many different things buzzing around marketer's heads as far as their strategic roadmap, where they take their investments, and ultimately where they have to pull their organization with them. Because, again, to your point, the generational gaps can be different with the people that are funding it, like CFOs and CEOs, to the marketer who's like," This is now, this was yesterday. Get on it. Oh, and by the way, it takes all of this as a organization to bring it together." That's a pretty ambitious transformational process for an organization. It's just always interesting to get your perspective on, hey, it should be on your radar. But, how much on your radar?
Crystal Washington: I think the challenges here is that because we're... We are undergoing so much change. I was doing a presentation yesterday for an audience and I did an activity with them to show them how our brains react to change and see change as danger. Just naturally. There's some serious biological reasons behind that. But, we're going through so much change right now that there's this constant fear of being left behind. Part of it is we're constantly being beat over the head with the message," If you don't adapt this really quick, you're going to be left behind. What about this? If you don't do this, you're left behind." What happens is we're trying to innovate from a place of fear. That is impossible. Here's why. If you're running from a bear, you can't have innovative thoughts while you're running from a bear. You're focused on running from the bear. What we have to do is slow down for a second. And, I know that's counter to everything that anyone is telling everyone who's with us right now. Slow down, pause for a second. Start with, when you think about your organization, what are your values? What is it you've promised to deliver to your customers? And then, start thinking about what innovations impact these values and our promise to our customers. Those are the things we need to start with first. This whole fear of being left behind and being made irrelevant if we don't adopt every single thing immediately, that's going to get us into trouble because so much money is wasted because we're just trying to keep from being left behind versus strategically thinking about, you know what, which one of these technologies will help us offer the best service or products to our customers. Which one of these things will allow us to be more efficient and effective in a way that's going to build our brand even more?
Ryan McCambridge: Wise words. Wise words. Well, with roughly 15 minutes we have left, Crystal. I want to anchor us back into some maybe more tactical thoughts that I know our audience is being bombarded with. The reality is, has to be important for their business. We have more data now than we've ever had, and we collect more... There's crazy quotes out there that we collect more data in an hour than we ever did over the past hundred years. Really, the data that people have on people is scary. But, it's also what powers the experiences people expect to have. The question is around this theme of AI, AR, and the future of data. Data is in every marketer's strategy. If it's not, stop, turn around, go back and put it in your strategy, because it has to be in your strategy. The world of data is changing more now than ever. Privacy advocacy is out there. You've got companies like Apple who are putting in proxy servers so that marketers don't know where exactly you are or what your demographics are. So, there's all kinds of... What we would call as relevant demographic data for us to give highly personalized experiences. Can you share your overall perspective on where you see data going as it's transformed over the past, let's just call it, three years, and into this future that we're going into, which is," Hey, one, we need AI, we need ML and AR to bring about these experiences." But, also in the face of headwinds of data privacy. Just share some thoughts on how you see data being the future of marketing despite some of these challenges that are in front of marketers today.
Crystal Washington: Yeah. For sure. Data's obviously extremely important. I think Walmart might have been the first large corporation to really invest in data scientists on a large scale. What they did was they hired them, this was years ago. Because, they were interested in seeing what... Their people in Florida, when there's a hurricane approaching you, they wanted to see what people were going out there and buying as the larger percentage increase. They wanted to see how they needed to stock differently in the event of a hurricane. Something I can appreciate. I live in Houston, Texas. Right, hurricanes. They took about five years worth of data. They took data from weather patterns for five years around the Florida coast and also all of their store sales over that five year period. What they found was really fascinating. When you look for the item that saw the largest percentage increase, most people if we were to guess, we would say something like water or batteries or whatever staples you think of. But, in the end, what they found was that number one thing that saw the largest percentage increase was Strawberry Pop Tarts. That's not logical. Humans are not logical. If you were to ask their customers, what is the thing that you buy more of that you normally don't buy as much of during hurricanes, no one's going to say it's Strawberry Pop Tarts. It's not that our customers and consumers are liars. Oftentimes, we're unaware of our own behaviors. There's things going on under... We have too many other things on our mind. We're just living. So, data allows us to make intelligent decisions. One of the challenges though within an organization is that, as a marketer, you see the importance of data, but oftentimes the rest of the organization does not. So, getting that data collected in the first place can be quite a bit of a challenge. And then, making sure that the data is clean and usable is a completely other thing. Because, we can have all the data in the world. But, if the way it's stored is such that we can't actually access it when we need it, it's not very helpful. We know we need data. We see how it makes us make smarter business decisions. We see how we can drive customers to purchase from us. We see how we can follow them around and understand their behaviors, to even give them predictive offerings, that we know that they would be interested in based on their behaviors. The other force that we're dealing though, is that when we're looking at privacy, that's becoming a larger and larger issue. Because we live in a global society, we're seeing that some of the laws that are happening, for instance, in Europe, are coming on over into the United States. Actually did quite a bit of work in Europe too. It's a completely different ballgame when it comes to managing your own data. As we're starting to move closer to cookie list world right now, and it's becoming harder to get data, it's more and more important for us to incentivize people to give us data. That's where the creativity comes in. Because, it's not just simply a matter of sign up here. I'll give you an example. I'm not a hard person to get data from, but I'm not easy either. When I see something online, maybe you're on social media and you see that ad and it's like," Oh, that looks cool. I think I'm going to buy that." And, you click on it. When it requires you to put in information before you can access more information about it, I never buy from them. Not once. I'm like," Oh." You got to wine and dine me first. We've moved too fast in this relationship. We have to figure out how do we incentivize people to give us their data. We have companies, as you said, like Apple that are making it a little bit harder for us to get that data. Now, we start thinking about... Earlier we were talking about Web3 and some of the components there. Is there an NFT opportunity? Is it partial ownership in things? Where can we start to get creative, to get people to willingly keep giving us information. Our existing customers, how do we get them to keep giving us information? In the past, we'd offer coupons or discounts. But, there might be more creative ways to do it that build a stronger sense of community. In the end, we know we need data. We know it's becoming harder to get. Now, we're in this position where we have to be more and more creative in getting the data that we can, convincing the other teams to actually collect it at whatever points they do, especially if there's an in- person component to our organizations. I know we have different types of organizations with us. And then, we have to make sure that the data that we're getting is clean and set up in a way where we can actually access it and make it usable. That's a completely different ballgame. That has more to do with systems than anything else.
Ryan McCambridge: Yeah. I want to take it to systems here in a second, Crystal.
Crystal Washington: Okay.
Ryan McCambridge: But, just a quick thought as you were talking about data. I truly believe loyalty is shifting the way that we're collecting data. And, loyalty will be less about what can we do for you financially. It's going to be more about what experiences can I provide to you. As a person who traveled a lot, my loyalty that I had with airlines or hotel rooms was less about I've got points to go on free trips. It was about," Hey, when my flight cancels, I can pick up the phone and when I call, I get somebody who answers my phone call. And, they book me on the next available flight without taking me off this flight, just in case this one goes out faster." That's a different kind of loyalty. That's helping your experience be something that's much better. That's where I always encourage the marketing and strategy folks that I talk to say," Hey, it's not always about what you can give somebody monetarily. It's about what you can do to make their experience better." That's not only with your customers. That's with your employees. Because, you'll never meet a happy customer who meets a miserable employee. If you have happy employees, you will have happy customers.
Crystal Washington: I love that. I love that. Because, it sounds like you're advocating for a less transactional relationship. Because, when you have customers that are only coming back to you because they get a coupon every month, what happens when they don't get the coupon? Or, if something happens in the process. But, if they are coming to you because of service... And, it sounds like we're kind of similar Ryan. I don't have arguments online about political things or anything like that. But, the only kind of arguments I have on social media, and I intentionally create these to let people fight, is about brands I support. There's a certain ice cream company that I've been loyal to since I was 12. People will fight over the best ice cream. There's an airline, there's all these different things, the brands. But, people think it's hilarious how loyal I am to these things almost as though they were family members. But, it is about the relationship. It is not transactional. When we understand that marketing is simply building mass relationships, now it makes sense. Because, even in our personal relationships, transactional relationships will only get you so far. Loyalty's a whole different ballgame when it goes beyond that. This is just the same thing in the business arena.
Ryan McCambridge: Absolutely right. Absolutely right. In our last couple of minutes here, we're going to have two quick questions. The first is... Let's tie them together. You're hearing things like MDM, CDP. I guarantee you we've had sessions on CDP. Like, should you be thinking about this? Why is this important? Is it something you should be doing now? Of course, we're like," Yes, you should be." Again, it goes into richer data gives richer opportunities to have richer attribution, which is richer segmentation, which allows you to have personalized experiences like we're just talking about. What are your thoughts on the emergence of CDPs and MDM solutions and technology. And then, we'll tie the last question and we'll land this conversation with how does an executive within a marketing organization have the most effective way of bringing their organization along with them? Because, you're going to get to IT and IT's going to say," You don't need that data." Even though they're collecting it. Or, you're going to go to brand teams and they're like," You don't touch my brand." No, we are one brand. Because, it might be a multi- branded organization that's trying to service the same customer across different brands. That's where I want to anchor this conversation is, all right, yes, how important are these technologies? How should you be thinking about them? And, how do you bring your organization with you so that you can have unified success? Because, that's what's required.
Crystal Washington: Customer data platforms are extremely important. Right now, the first types of organizations that I saw leveraging them really well. One of my clients is one of the most recognizable gaming organizations in the world globally. And, gaming companies, when I say gaming, I mean like in Las Vegas. That type of gaming. I don't mean video gaming.
Ryan McCambridge: Table inaudible gaming. Things like that. Yep.
Crystal Washington: Yes. They're having tremendous success because they're analyzing what types of games people play. Because, they have the cards now. It's not just you're putting money in. So, they're tracking everything. Where are they eating? Where are they staying? What's the average... They're looking at all this data and they're actually pumping it back and using it to offer solutions and offers to people. And, they're seeing a dramatic increase in usage. I think this data is extremely important, and creating a system that tracks it. Really, many of these also connect with something that's still fairly new. I mean, they've existed for a while, is customer experience platforms as well. Because, we have CRMs, but customer experience is a little bit different. When we talk about CDPs, it's combining all these different things into one place to get all the data. Now, in terms of getting all the other people in the office on board, oftentimes one of the issues is that many organizations work in silos. That really is not a problem of just larger organizations. Even mid- size organizations have that issue. What we do is, when we ask our peers for something, we tend to present the features and not the benefits. Specifically, the benefits to them and the end client. If you're going to another department saying," Hey, we need this data. We need you to start collecting this." Their resistance is because they don't understand the big picture. Their resistance is because they don't understand that their job depends on you all continuing to grow or meeting a certain mark. They don't understand that, oh, if we increase customers by this much, typically the average salary here goes up by this much. Or, if we collect this data, we'll be able to do this thing better for our customers. I think communicating in terms of benefits. And then, holding other teams accountable. There has to be someone somewhere in the organization that, again, it's that carrot and the stick thing. I'm a big fan of the carrot. I rarely believe in bringing out the stick. But, you might have to have somebody that has the stick too. But, start off with just making sure there's a fundamental understanding of the importance, how it affects them, their teams and the client or customer.
Ryan McCambridge: Yeah. Two things that I take away from that one, it's velocity to deliver the value. That's super important. That goes back to why are customer data platforms and customer experience platforms so important. It's because the velocity to get that done has to be in the moment. It's what they did microseconds ago that you want to hit them back up with.
Crystal Washington: Yes.
Ryan McCambridge: Credit card companies have been really good at that, where you make a big transaction and they say," Do you want to plan it and use a interest free?" Or, give you a different offer. I think we can learn a lot from that. And then, the second thing is always articulating and illustrating that you're building a machine that if you put a dollar into it, it spits a$ 5 bill out. No CFO you'll ever meet in the world, if you can show them the return like that, they're going to give you as many dollars as you ever need in order to accomplish what you're doing. Don't be afraid to have the conversation about budget if the ROI can be shown and illustrated that it's going to have a significant revenue impact on the business.
Crystal Washington: Agreed.
Ryan McCambridge: With that, Crystal, this has been an absolute privilege to have you at Ultraviolet. Thank you so much... Your background and your time. And, most importantly, your knowledge with our audience today. I really hope we have an opportunity to do this again in the future. We wish you all the best in the coming year and in the future.
Crystal Washington: Thank you.
Ryan McCambridge: Yeah, you're welcome. And, thank you. Everybody else, thank you. I hope this was insightful. Also, it stroked some areas of curiosity and also most importantly inspired you as you're continuing on this journey of making your organizations world class. We still have a few sessions left. Make sure that you plug into those. Incredible thought leadership as well as practical insights on how to accomplish those ideas to be shared. I just also want to continue to thank our sponsors for their continued support of the Ultraviolet conference. With that, thank you and have a great afternoon and rest of the week.
Bobby Tichy: Based off of Ryan and Crystal talking about the metaverse, what's your favorite thing about the metaverse?
Cole Fisher: I like the word meta. I think that's pretty cool. Honestly...
Bobby Tichy: I think the word verse is better than meta.
Cole Fisher: I've just dabbled, just dipping a toe in. There's just so much that... There's so many differing opinions that I have a hard time... For me, it becomes a self education thing, where self education is so inefficient. But, we've had to resort to it a lot. But, there's so many different sources with different information and opposing views. It's hard to pick one side or the other, or what the next step is. I don't know. The whole futurist thing has got to be... It's a little intimidating, honestly.
Bobby Tichy: Yeah. Especially because obviously all these companies have gone way into it. But, it's interesting what it will look like. I just always think of it as the Sims, the old computer game. I don't know if that's actually what it is. But, that's how I think about it. I'm sure someone would actually, or I should actually look it up to figure out what it really is. Because, it's going to affect our job at some point. Is there any future fork or prediction that you have or something that you'd like to see in the future? Like a flying car or something like that?
Cole Fisher: Definitely rain tomorrow afternoon. Barometric pressure is going to fall. No.
Bobby Tichy: Oh man.
Cole Fisher: That's about as far out as my predictions can get. I'm pretty passionate about that. Barometric pressure, I can almost guarantee I'm locked in on. Yeah, that's tough. Why? You have a prediction off the top of your head? You going to go...
Bobby Tichy: Oh boy.
Cole Fisher: You going to go inaudible on me?
Bobby Tichy: Um...
Cole Fisher: I think at some point... Like iOS is the tightest operating system platform, as opposed to Android and things like that. But, I think at some point, the general blockchain concept and value that we're seeing developed, like in finance right now, I think is going to come into operating system where... You're not going to be downloading apps necessarily. You've already seen some of this where QR codes can bring you to a site that basically operates as... A mobile site that operates as an app. I think that the concept of apps is not only cumbersome right now, but is going to be seeing its way out. Where you shouldn't have to go to an app store, download an app, just to access that company's information to get the thing that you wanted, to buy a product or to get information. That's going to be wayward soon. We're going to look back on like," Hey, remember when you had to scroll through your phone eight times to get to that one app that you already had that you downloaded once and didn't use, but for a special..." That's going to be wayward.
Bobby Tichy: Yeah. That's interesting. Because, if you think about it now, the whole reason you're downloading the app is, to your point, accessing the company's information. At the same time, they're collecting all of your information. It's really pro business. It doesn't really help the customer. I mean, I'm sure there are some instances where it does. But, I use the Xfinity app. For some things it's great, but we also have Xfinity mobile and there's no mobile capability within the Xfinity app. So, it just takes you to the site, the mobile site for Xfinity Mobile.
Cole Fisher: Yeah. And then, the problem is, too, this is a hurdle that the customer has to get past. We're in every other facet of the marketing world. We're seeing marketers finally, slowly but finally, adapt to the concept of make the conversion or make the access to information, whatever, as frictionless as possible. But, we still want you to go download an app. Not too long ago, I was trying to go to some event and they're like," Oh, download our app. And then, we have to see this transaction. Then you got to put this in and put your name here." It was like," Whoa, this is..." As a marketer, the hairs were standing on the back of my neck. It was just," Ugh." It was painful going through all this work as a consumer. And, they have a line of people just waiting to do this. It's like," Wow, I hope you guys are offering large scale volume." Because, the days of you being able to collect this information and have consumers download a mobile app and all this stuff is not only limited, but the days of you being able to hold that information and pretend to own it as your own are also limited because of all the data privacy restrictions and things like that coming down, where the whole purpose of downloading an app is going to be obsolete because of that. You, like me, as the consumer, you can have whatever information I want you to have because it provides benefit to me. But, if you're not providing benefit to me, you're not accessing my apps, my operating system. I'm not giving you information. Honestly, I'm a little surprised that we aren't further down that road than we are now.
Bobby Tichy: Have you seen... My brother- in- law sent me this. It's basically a big drone. It's called the Jetson One. It's a one seater that you inaudible
Cole Fisher: ...for it.
Bobby Tichy: Yeah. But, it's got... I think it's four or eight propellers similar to how a drone would. It is pretty cool. Goes up to 60 miles an hour. Stays under 1, 500 feet. So, it's not regulated yet. I think that's what I would like to see. I'd like to see better transportation options. Especially for short term transportation.
Cole Fisher: Are you thinking about all airspace travel drones? Are you thinking like Elon Musk's tube concept, like the underground?
Bobby Tichy: I'm open.
Cole Fisher: inaudible to New York in 45 minutes blast.
Bobby Tichy: That would be cool. Although, traveling at that highest speed makes me nervous. Because, I feel like if there's a malfunction of anything, you're toast.
Cole Fisher: Yeah.
Bobby Tichy: But...
Cole Fisher: Same inaudible
Bobby Tichy: News flash, I haven't spent a lot of time diving into this subject. I'm probably not the best person to speak on it.
Cole Fisher: But, I will go 1, 500 feet in the air in a drone just to jetson things out.
Bobby Tichy: Exactly. Exactly. Well, we hope you enjoyed the conversation with Ryan and Crystal. As always, you can get in touch with us in the clouds at levdigital. com. See you later.
Lev expert and SVP, Strategy Ryan McCambridge joins Crystal Washington for a deep dive into the future of marketing. As a technology strategist, certified futurist, and author of “One Tech Action and The Social Media Why,” Crystal shares her unique perspective about what marketers might expect to see on the horizon in our ever changing world.
Topics of conversation include:
- The Future of Work
- The metaverse and taking a pragmatic approach, how gamers have been in the metaverse for years already.
- Crystal on web3 opportunities
- The trajectory with Web3, how long until it is part of everyday life?
- Artificial intelligence, augmented reality, machine learning and the future of data
- Loyalty and how it is shifting the way data is collected
- Richer data, richer segmentation, and what an executive within a marketing organization should do to bring the organization forward