Kick-Start’14 – M. Joel’s Trends and Insights

Today I'm thrilled to catch up with one of the most influential people in today's marketing world, Mitch Joel. Mitch is the President of digital marketing agency Twist Image and author of the popular blog Six Pixels of Separation.

trends Mitch Joel

Mitch is also a sought-after keynote speaker, and recently published the book Ctrl Alt Delete. He kindly shared a few moments with me today:

@HNesterenko: Mitch, I know how busy your schedule is, and I'm really excited that you get to share some marketing wisdom with us. 

In the first part of your book Ctrl Alt Delete: Reboot Your Business. Reboot Your Life. Your Future Depends on It. You say the mobile is the way of the future. How exactly should it affect the way we do business?

@MitchJoel: What I was trying to say in that book [referred to] a movement I call the one screen world. And my theory is that it's not about mobile or web, TVs, or tablets - it's about the fact that screens are everywhere, they're connected …[but] the only thing that matters is that the screen is in front of me.

When you're watching TV and have your iPhone in your hand, and go to Twitter occasionally, it's not like the right eyeball is on the iPhone while the left one is on the TV.

@HNesterenko: Right.

@MitchJoel: The only thing that matters is that the screen is in front of you. We’re in a world now where screens are everything. [You have to] think about it in the context of marketing. How do you create marketing that contextually fits within the experience of the consumer?

@HNesterenko: And how exactly should the one screen world change the way we produce and deliver content online?  

@MitchJoel: Well, think about it this way. I'm sure you've watched a YouTube video on your smartphone?

@HNesterenko: Absolutely.

@MitchJoelI'm sure you've also watched a YouTube video on your computer, and I'm sure you've watched a youtube video on your TV, and on your Apple TV.

@HNestereko: Yes.

@MitchJoel: And I guess you would say well, YouTube is YouTube, and its just a video. But, the truth of the matter is that it's not. When I'm watching on my iPhone, I'm probably travelling on a Subway. If I'm looking at it on my computer, I might have my headphones on,  and I’m probably hunched over in my cubicle or desk. While I'm at home, I may be sitting back on the couch, and sort of sorting through all the suggested and recommended views, and going through it like that.

Contextually, we're very different people within different environments, and the real challenge the brands have to figure out when consumers are active in those environments. [They also need to identify] when they are passive, and what type of messages they are looking for. And you know, I think we're starting to see very early developments in that if you look at [certain] platforms. It’s like what YouTube is doing with their 'trueview' advertising. So, we're starting to see better distribution of video, and brands starting to figure out strategic ways to find out what consumers are really doing when they're watching that content.

@HNesterenko: In a prior interview, you mentioned that it is necessary to provide an abundance of content to your audience. Is it a habit that small businesses with blogs need to borrow?

@MitchJoel: Well, I don’t think that digital channels and these connected screens are more relevant to large corporations. In fact, I think it’s quite the opposite. What we see is a sort of atomization of the internet. We're seeing the web become a very porous place, where little pieces of content drip and drop through it. And channels are emerging that are much smaller - think about Twitter and it’s 140 characters.

There’s an opportunity for small business owners to truly connect and share things that are important to them, whether on the product side or the service side. [Reaching] their customer base has never been easier or more cost-effective. So, if anything, I believe that these [tactics work] for marketing the small and medium-sized enterprise.

@HNesterenko: And with this abundance of content and small channels, how should a business differentiate their content in order to stand out from the crowd? And where do you begin with that?

@MitchJoel: I don't think there's a unified answer for that – [I can’t say] “every business should do this!” The true opportunity comes from thinking about the goals that you're trying to accomplish, and how can they be met by using these channels to be more efficient, faster, smarter, and more human. So, its not like I’m saying “well, if everybody just did A, B, and C, everybody would get it right.” I don't believe that to be the case.For some people it would be an engine of customer service, for some it's an engine of sharing information, for others it's a type of collaboration. For others still, it's an area where they can broadcast newer types of media. [These channels are] not “one size fits all”. Even when you start thinking about this question what you really begin to understand is that there isn't a “best-case” setting. There isn't a white paper that you can take and apply, and it works for you. Those days are long gone.

@HNesterenko: Thanks! In your book, I really loved the idea that you should approach your life as a start-up. Can you look at the way we create content from this perspective too?

@MitchJoel: Absolutely - that's the whole opportunity. If you go back to the pre-internet world which I remember very well, I was both a journalist and magazine publisher. I would desperately walk through the corner store and hope that the latest issue of my favorite magazine was there. And then I would walk back with my shoulders slumped when it wasn't there, wait another week and hope it came out. And to think that we live in a place now where you can go online and not only access content, but create content instantly - text, images, audio, video – and publish it instantly for free to the world!

@HNesterenko: Yes!

@MitchJoel: It is completely a start-up opportunity… Look at the Huffington Post. It was an idea from Ariana Huffington and some of her co-collaborators… that became a 300+ million dollar business that was sold to AOL. And there are many instances if you think about it. Mashable - all of these platforms were very much in start-up mode.

@HNesterenko: What trends do you anticipate will prevail in 2014?

@MitchJoel: The most important area that I'm really looking at is the “interneting” of everything. If you look at predictions from places like Business Insider, they're talking about 75 billion devices connected by 2020! And, so we're starting to see [the internet] in really interesting places. Look at the Nest Thermostat – that brand also has a fire detector. We’re looking at the ability to unlock your doors through your iPhone – we’re looking at a world where technology is in your toasters and your microwaves and your washing machines. In such a connected world, we’re going to have to rethinking what marketing is.

Many of these connected devices won’t have screens on them like we’re used to. However, it’s [amazing] to see how the world connects.  We’re seeing the population increasingly online, how these devices connect, and how we have [much] more than just computers running off of the internet.

What do you think of Mitch Joel’s concept of the one screen world? Share your thoughts in the comments – we’d love to hear!