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7 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About the Irish or Saint Patrick’s Day

We all love to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day, don’t we? Even if we don’t have Irish roots, many pretend to be Irish for a day…usually to partake in green beer. But there are some things about Saint Patrick’s Day that you probably don’t know? Saint Patrick

1. It is estimated that there are one million Irish people living abroad.  

2. Following the Great Fire which levelled much of the city’s central peninsula on June 20th, 1877, Saint John was rebuilt almost exclusively by Irish labour.

3. St. Patrick wasn’t Irish, and he wasn’t born in Ireland. Patrick’s parents were Roman citizens living in modern-day England, or more precisely in Scotland or Wales (scholars cannot agree on which). He was born in 385 AD. By that time, most Romans were Christians and the Christian religion was spreading rapidly across Europe. So, maybe we should celebrating Tartan Day on April 6th with good ole Saint Patty. (Oh, and I did I mention that Saint Patrick’s Day only started in 1970 versus Tartan Day that started as a result of action in 1320?)

4.The original colour associated with St. Patrick is blue, not green as commonly believed. In several artworks depicting the saint, he is shown wearing blue vestments. King Henry VIII used the Irish harp in gold on a blue flag to represent the country. Since that time, and possibly before, blue has been a popular colour to represent the country on flags, coats-of-arms, and even sports jerseys.

Green was associated with the country later, presumably because of the greenness of the countryside, which is so because Ireland receives plentiful rainfall. Today, the country is also referred to as the “Emerald Isle.”  (source same as #3)

5. Corned beef and cabbage, Saint Patrick’s Day staple, doesn’t have anything to do with the grain corn. Instead, it’s a nod to the large grains of salt that were historically used to cure meats, which were also known as “corns.”

6. Did you know that the stainless steel DeLorean car was designed and built in Ireland? It was.

7. Did you know that nearly 19% of New Brunswickers have Irish roots? (Not me though…I am Scottish…could you tell?)

What’s your did you know? We would love to hear?

12 Proven Methods to Increase Your Traffic

Insider Secrets to Using Emotions to Influence Buyer Behaviour

Image courtesy of 300 × 231Search by image

Aren’t we all looking for ways to increase our blog and website visits, with the ultimate goal to increase sales? Of course we are. Depending on how much effort you want to use, there are some really great ways to do just that. In this post I share 12 proven methods to increase your traffic. Let’s dig in!

Minimum Effort:

Take a fresh and objective look at your blog. Are you missing some key elements?

1. Add a call to action – this is a big opportunity for you. You definitely want to do this. Are you simply ending your blog asking for thoughts, comments, or ideas? While I applaud you for wanting to engage, let’s take this up a notch. What do you want? When applicable, ask them to go to your website to learn more? Maybe fill out a form to get the ebook. Put in specific calls to action. Don’t be afraid.

2. Improve your headlines – think about magazine headlines. What grabs your attention? For example, what would you read: Body Found in Topless Barr or 

• Lists: 8 Lives Impacted by Unexpected Change

• Social Proof: Why the Kiwanis Club of Fredericton Partners with the Stan Cassidy

      Headlines tied to current events

3. Add your Facebook follow button to your website and blog (and if you use Twitter, do the same)

Medium Effort:

4. As blog editor, there are things that need to be done to blogs to make them better for SEO. One such thing is adding links to other blogs, websites, etc. directly in your blog posts. If your blog is missing links, it’s an easy fix.

It could be done via a checklist box or some other sidebar. It can also be done by referencing similar blogs on your blog, or adding your contact us page. This is quite important to add to your blog as it will help with getting search engines pick you up.

5. Ask people to share. This can be done in your blog post, and definitely done in your Facebook posting of the blog post. Each blog post should be shared on your Facebook page and ask people outright to share. This is important for reach. It can be sharing did you knows or content of other similar types of organizations. Find content that matters to your audience.

6. Check to ensure that keywords are used consistently in posts to boost SEO. 

7. Leverage a Twitter account. That channel is great for sharing and promoting the blog as well as your events. Again, ask people to share your content.

Most Effort:

8. Create videos – the great thing about videos these days is that you don’t need high production. An iPhone and good external microphone and you (your staff or guest bloggers) can easily do a blog interview or highlight video. People love these. Also partner with community members. Share their videos. Have a contest to create videos and have high profile community members be the selection committee. This will generate buzz for you. (Remember videos should be short – two to three minutes is the golden number in terms of length)

9. Create evergreen content – Essentially evergreen content is content that you can repurpose and share over and over again. It could be something specific to an event, a product, etc. Having this content to fill voids is important and takes the pressure off of those involved.

10. Profile employees, volunteers or other key people – this is a great way for people to get to know you better and feel connected. 

11.  Use Facebook Insights to determine what posts are doing better. Insights will also help you determine what time of day and what day is the best for sharing content in order to get noticed. 

12. If you aren’t currently leveraging email to let your audience know that your blog is live, you should. This is also a key strategy to boost visits.

13. (bonus) Increase your blogging cadence. It is proven that blogging at least three times a week benefits organizations more in terms of conversations from calls to action.  

Want to learn more about using content strategies to generate leads, increase brand recognition and grow your business? Give us a call. We can help.

3 #Cybersecurity Must Reads for This Week

Cybersecurity is top of mind for a lot of people, and for good reason. Cyber risks and attacks are not only impacting individuals with identity theft, but they are also impacting hospitals and businesses.cyber security, cybersecurity

So, I thought I would compile my fav articles on this very subject that I discovered this week. Let’s take a look:

  1. Want Safer Passwords? Don’t Change Them So Often, by Brian Barrett

I say ‘hooray’ to this one. I can’t tell you how often I have forgotten passwords. Everything needs its own password and the love of God, I can’t remember them all!

2. A typo partially stopped hackers from stealing $1 billion from a Bangladesh bank, by Loren Grush

Maybe we should intentionally use typos as a protection tool?

3. Pay up or else: Ransomware is the hot hacking trend of 2016, by 

I think this one speaks or itself. Definitely a serious issue that is not going away.

Well, these were my top picks for the week. What would you add?

Why Words Matter When Building Organizational Culture

As a people manager, consultant and coach, I continue to be amazed by the fact that so many people fail to recognize the power of  their words. Maybe ‘amazed’ is not the right word. Disappointed might actually be the better word. Disappointed that so-called people managers and/or leaders disregard the power of the words that they choose when communicating with subordinates and/or even peers.Screen Shot 2016-03-10 at 12.17.16 PM

Organizational culture has been on my mind a lot lately. Working closely with clients and organizations experiencing change can cause that to happen.

Unintentional  or Intentional Word Choice


There is an argument that word choice is completely unintentional. In this case, people might not take the time to stop and think about the words they are selecting in the heat of the moment when sending an email, letter or even when having a face-to-face with someone.

People are busy and they really may not realize the words they are using result in people feeling embarrassed, demeaned, humiliated or even angry. Things of course are complicated further by who else sees/hears the conversation unfold and who actually uses the words.

For example, as a people manager I may realize that employee A is not as reliable as employee B in delivering and I need to get a project completed for an important deal to come to fruition. I could say:

“Employee A, I really need you to step aside and hand over your work on Project X to Employee B because he will get it done correctly and on time. Whereas you will need a lot of handholding and prodding just to get it done. I have something else I can get you to work on instead.” And of course I am saying this in a team meeting with everyone listening.

Or, I could say….

“Employee A, I really need your help with a new initiative because you are very strong in a, b, and c, which is essential for success. This overlaps with Project X so I was thinking that Employee A could take that on. Why don’t the three of us meet after this to discuss how we can make both priorities a success and support each other?”

See/hear the difference? Not only am I not embarrassing or diminishing the person, but I am actually focusing on what the person is good at. If you want to promote and develop a great work culture, you must have both: the right words and positive reinforcement. [Click to Tweet]


Of course there is also the intentional choice of using particular words. This can be both a positive, which is really the second example above, or a really negative. In the latter, a person is deliberately choosing words to hurt and diminish someone. In an organization that promotes its culture as being ideal, this would seem to not align. And, if in fact it was intentional, it is likely that the culture is not what management claims it to be. This is a red flag. Morale is likely low and people will not be as productive. Turnover will be high and internal cliques will be obvious.

Here is an example of someone deliberately intending to demoralize an employee:

“Donna, despite accomplishing everything that was set out for you to do last year and exceeding established KPIs, we don’t support your promotion. We think another person could do it better. We recognize your hard work though, so we expect you to continue to manage the projects until complete. This will give us time to train your new manager. Maybe next time!”

How would you feel as an employee hearing this? Probably not very good. Despite accomplishing everything and exceeding expectations in terms of results, you aren’t getting promoted. This does not match.

Or, how about this follow-up request two months later?

“Donna, since you managed this project until being replaced, attached are the vendor assessment forms that need to be completed. Fill them out and return to me by the date noted. Be sure to cc your new boss!

If your goal is to have people fully engaged and supporting the organization, this is not the best way to do that.

As a people manager or someone with influence such as HR or an executive assistant, your words can cut deeply. While frank and candidate conversations need to happen, there are better ways to do it, including the location and of course:  the right words. You are not doing anyone any favours bringing a person down. In addition to demeaning a person, this behaviour is also sending a signal to the rest of the team that:

  • it is acceptable to embarrass others
  • it is acceptable to make sure others know of the embarrassment
  • if you don’t deliver the way I want you to, then you might be next
  • working in fear is acceptable in our culture.

Something to Remember:

High-performing organizational cultures don’t just happen. Everyone from top to bottom and bottom to top have to live the goals and objectives. People need to be aware and coach each other to make it happen. Bad behaviour, including deliberately demeaning people should not be accepted. Good leaders get to the bottom of it. What is the root cause? Is it the real culture coming through, or is it simply that a person or person hasn’t really been coached on what the organization’s culture is to be. Word choices need to be deliberate to bring people up versus bringing them down.

High-performing organizational cultures don’t just happen. People make them happen. Words matter. [click to Tweet]

Remember, words matter. Be selective. Act with purpose and meaning. Bring people up rather than pushing them down!

Have thoughts on how words matter, I would love to hear.

5 Things I Learned from Teaching University Students

As another term starts, I can’t help but reflect on the last term. When I started teaching I was fairly confident that I would enjoy it.  And, I do – very much in fact. Last term was particularly enjoyable. In part it was because of the subject matter and also in part because I was more in tune with the process. It also helped that I had a number of students who were in my class last term. It’s always nice to see a familiar face or faces.

Learning, STU, Students

COPP 3023 Ethics Class (Thanks to everyone!)

My goal of course is to share my experience and knowledge from my 20+ years of marketing and communications. When doing my first and even second Undergrad degrees I always craved and loved when Professors were able to share their real-life experiences versus just discussing what was in text book. Learning however, is a lifelong endeavour and while I hope that my students learn very useful information from the courses I teach, I also learn from my students. Here are *5 things that I learned from teaching University Students.

5. Passion Starts Early

I had the pleasure of getting to know many, many fantastic students who were filled with passion. Whether it was learning something new or sharing information about what was learned during the day or in another class or event, nearly every person in my Ethics class was extremely passionate about his or her learning and beliefs. It made for great conversation; and great conversations get you thinking. When you think, you challenge your own beliefs. When you challenge your own beliefs you learn. The best part? You don’t have to be in a classroom to do this. Anyone can do this as long as you are open and willing to have a conversation without judgement.

In reviewing the final exams, I can’t say how rewarding it was to read about students who have done just this. They have learned. Perhaps most rewarding is reading statements made by mature students who discuss how much they learned and the tools that they can now leverage in the careers. You can’t get much better than that.

4. Silly Jokes are a Necessity for Filling Wait Times

I absolutely loved that when we needed to fill time when students were setting up for presentations, that students were willing to fill the void with silly jokes that made the entire class laugh. It was both funny and enjoyable. To me it was a demonstration of a group of students who were respectful and caring. People listened and laughed together.

3. Respect is Alive and Well

I don’t have many rules for class, aside from the regular ones like come to class, be prepared and participate. I do believe strongly in being respectful to all. That means when a person is speaking, whether it is me or a student, we respect that person and listen: one conversation at a time.

I would have to say that overall this was one of the most respectful classes with people doing just that: “listening.” Additionally, people were very respectful with asking questions and participating in discussions with other students. This shows how mature these students are and it truly lends to a great learning environment.

2. People Crave Real Experience

I already knew this, but this class really reinforced this concept for me. Learning about theory has its place, but learning about theory and understanding how it fits into the work environment and why it is important makes learning much more relevant. The more we talked about real events and issues the more the students engaged. The more they engaged and wanted to know, the more I wanted to share with them.

1. Age Has Nothing to Do with Anything

One of the things that really stood out for me was the diversity of my class this term. It was wonderful to have a good mix of Canadian and international students. It was also rewarding to see a fantastic mix of younger and mature students. Each group brought such unique experiences and learnings to the class. I could see numerous examples where the younger students learned from the mature students and I could also see numerous examples of the mature students learning from the younger students. This is perhaps the perfect mix which results in learning happening in numerous ways. Learning is lifelong and being able to learn from people of all ages and backgrounds makes for a very rewarding experience for all involved.

These are just 5 things that I learned from my students last term. They are the ones that really stand out for me. Of course there are more. In the end, I want to learn too and I believe that this adds to what I can bring to my class next term and other terms in the future. I am thankful to all the students in this class that just wrapped up. They inspired me to continue to develop my classes so that all students get the most out of the class.

*For my students reading this and wondering why I used “5” and not “five” as I taught them was the right grammatical way to use numbers, this is an exception for the purposes of blog writing. I know it is not actually the right thing to do :).

Want to learn more about me? Check out my company website.

6 Signs You Aren’t Really A Team Player


Our work environments can often be a very competitive space where we are jockeying to get the positions, perks and pay. Have you ever noticed however, that there are some people who manage to move through the ranks and they remain respected and well-liked? Of course you have. Then there are others that make it so far, but they seem to get stuck. Often times there are telltale signs of why. It often comes down to not being a team player. In fact there are six signs that you aren’t really a team player and there is a very good chance that your peers as well as your managers have noticed!

  1. You go out of your way to find fault in the work of your colleagues.
  2. Even more of a red flag, you go to great lengths to prepare communications  – usually via email – that showcase the errors of others and you cc the whole chain of command of the employee or employees to ensure that everyone is well aware of the mistakes.
  3. Despite there being subject matter experts, you make copious notes on how they can better do their jobs. And, of course you share them.
  4. When conversations are occurring, you not only talk over others, you go out of your way to one up the others, again to showcase your intelligence.
  5. You never ask how your colleagues are. You go directly to what they or others are doing wrong.
  6. And, finally you never praise others for their work.

Chances are, unless you are both really self-aware and very honest with yourself, you won’t recognize that you do this. However, if you aren’t getting a head at work quite as quickly as you would like. It might be time to step back and honestly self-assess.

Would you add others to this list?

Note: this post was previously published on LinkedIn.

5 Reasons the Press Release is Dead

Press Release is Dead

Ever get the feeling that you just don’t get the same pick up from your press releases that you used to? Well, it shouldn’t be that surprising. As a PR Practitioner with more experience than I really care to admit, the press release might just have gone the way of the Dodo bird – well, the press release as we know it today. Want to make your press releases more effective? Take a look at these:

1. First and foremost your audience is wrong!

To effectively write a press release it can’t be written for your client! This applies to both your internal clients for those PR Practitioners who work for companies and also those who are consultants.

Press Release is Dead

HA MacLean Image

Remember the golden rule: Always write for your audience. If you are writing for your client you have lost before you begun. No reporter is going to be interested in an obvious self-promotion piece. There has to be more…see #2.

2. Ask yourself who cares

Directly tied to your audience, you need to ask the question who cares? What is it about the news that you want to share in your press release that is so significant? How does it impact your customers or the public? Given what is actually happening and being covered in the news, both locally and internationally, is your news tidbit really that much more important and/or interesting? What problem is it actually solving?

If you honestly can’t think of a reason that an objective person – with no skin in the game – would have to care about what you are pushing in your press release, then by all means, don’t write or issue one. Be honest with yourself. There has to be something interesting/relevant.

If you do decide to go ahead, at best it will be ignored by all media. However, the flip side of this there will be a number of reporters, assignment editors, producers shaking their heads and dismissing your submissions as well…useless. In the future they won’t waste the effort to even consider anything in their in boxes from you.

3.  Not understanding how to pitch

Admittedly this can be the most difficult part about getting to a reporter, particularly if you don’t know the reporter from Adam or Eve.

If you make a cold call and “IF” the reporter or assignment editor actually answers, you better have your elevator pitch fine tuned. And, I am not kidding when I speak of having an elevator pitch ready to go. You will literally have seconds to tell why your product, service or company deserves an interview, news story or feature in said publication and/or newscast.

Oh, and don’t call the reporter to ask permission to send a news release. He or she is already inundated with people sending news releases, both good and bad. Make the most out of the phone call with the details in an elevator pitch. If the reporter bites, then you can send along supporting information.

You need to be quick, some might argue pithy, and interesting. If you are unsure, hesitate or can’t convey the why the information in your press release is important and how it is going to change things, then forget about it. The reporter is moving on. He or she has tight deadlines and lots of expectations. And, that takes me to the next point!

4. Lack of environmental awareness

Now, I am not talking about global warming here. No, I am talking about how the news/media industry now works. Things have changed significantly in the last 10 years and even more drastically in the last three years. There are fewer reporters covering more stories and topics than ever before. Many media outlets not only have reporters interviewing and writing, but they are also researching, taking photos and if for TV or video, shooting that same video! All of this adds pressure to what a reporter can or cannot do.

If you really want to make headway with a reporter, there are a five key things that every PR Practitioner MUST do:Press Release is dead

  • Be absolutely certain to know and understand what their area of expertise/interest is. Sure some reporters cover everything, but there are still a few specialists. So, if you want to pitch a story about a revolutionary new product in the manufacturing industry, don’t call the court reporter. Not only do you annoy the person by distracting him or her from what they need to do, it shows that you didn’t do your homework.
  • Keep in mind that because some may specialize in a certain area, he or she will not know everything about that industry, so make it easy for him or her. For example, if you find the IT reporter and get through be sure to have your elevator pitch on this great new startup ready, but also have a fact sheet ready that you can send, if required.
  • Above all else speak in laymen’s terms. Too many times I have visibly seen what happens when people start to get all technical and using terms that the average person does not understand. The eyes glaze over and then it is the “well thank you” and they move on. You don’t have to speak in technical terms to sound smart and most importantly you shouldn’t if you want the reporter to be interested. Remember, the reporter has to make quick decisions and if he or she is not really sure of what it is that you are talking about, not only does he or she not have time, but maybe their audience won’t either. That is then a colossal waste of time.
  • Have photos, interview subjects, quotes, Q&A’s, video and factsheets all ready and available immediately for the reporter.
  • Don’t ask the reporter to Tweet about you, your company, event or product. That is just not going to happen and by asking you are again demonstrating that you don’t understand the roles and responsibilities of the media.

5. Time is of the Essence

Always remember to pitch new information. Never pitch something that was released previously and may not have been picked up. If it wasn’t picked up last month, there is probably a good reason for that. See # 1 and #2. If it was picked up, it won’t be difficult for the reporter to determine that this is not news and that you just wasted his or her time. Again, not cool.

So, what are the key take-aways to make the best out of today’s press releases?

  • Know your audience and write for that audience (and it is not your client)
  • Be prepared and don’t waste a reporter’s time
  • Ensure that what you are pitching is really news
  • Help reporters by having all the relevant information they could want/ need ready at your finger tips

Remember PR is not a science. It is an art. We are dealing with human beings. This means that we need to remember the basics in terms of human wants and needs. Reporters are people too. They need a lot of things to be successful. Let’s give them what they need.

Want to learn more? We can help you with your press releases, pitches and media training.


The Smell of Sales – How Small Business Can Use Scent to Sell

There are many things that influence sales. In an earlier post I talked about how color really can influence buyer behaviour. Color however, is not the only thing that influences sales. In fact, small business can really leverage the power of scent to increase sales. Interested? Let’s dig in!

Know that feeling when you smell fresh baked bread? Of course you do. It is pretty much universal. It is calming and makes you think of home, comfort and overall happiness. When my husband and I were looking to buy our first home, one seller really understood this. He had a loaf of fresh-baked bread sitting out. The smell was amazing. Of course we could see ourselves living there. And, we did buy the house.shutterstock_150831380

This same principle also works for small business.

  • Own a sports store? Creating a lightly scented environment with peppermint for example makes people feel energized.
  • Are your employees a little too relaxed? Introduce a citrus scent. It is known to increase productivity.
  • Going back to my house hunting, the smell of baked goods tends to foster collaboration. Maybe it something around family meals that evokes this reaction, but it works. So, if you want to boost collaboration, introduce the scent of fresh-baked goodies.
  • Maybe you want to create the environment of relaxation and comfort. In this case consider scents like lavender or chamomile.

Scent can be very powerful in terms of creating an environment which helps influence how people feel and therefore make purchase decisions. An important factor however is not to go overboard. Many people have health-related issues that can be impacted by various scents. This is not the reaction you want. It is all about subtleties.

Want to learn more about how to take your marketing to the next level? Connect with us.

The Sunday Brief (April 19, 2015)

Well, it’s another Sunday and I sit thinking of the week that has passed and the week that has yet to start as I write The Sunday Brief. Not so much out with the old and in with the new, but rather there were a lot of great things that happened over the week that has wrapped up and so much potential for the week coming.The Sunday Brief

Maybe my optimism is shrouded in the fact that it is a beautiful sunny day with snow melting and so much coming alive. Maybe it is because I am sitting having a great cup of coffee at Second Cup while I await my afternoon meeting guest to arrive.  Regardless, it is an awesome day.

So, let’s take a look at a few great reads that stood our for me this week:

1. The Rise of Inbound Marketing and the Death of the Cold Call by Derek Miller

I love this post because it gives a great easy understanding of what inbound marketing is. I also like it because it really focuses on the fact that people have changed. Buyer behaviour has changed. Unfortunately many people in traditional sales roles are holding on for dear life not fully grasping how buyer behaviour has changed. I also really like that Miller is not claiming that there isn’t a role for salespeople. There is actually! The role has changed however; and embracing that change will make them more successful salespeople.

2. You Have the Power to Rewire Your Brain for More Joy by Catherine Clifford 

This is another really great read! Why? It points out the obvious really. While obvious, there are still many of us who choose to ignore it.

So, what is so obvious? Well, if you think that going after and getting the perfect job will make you happy – when you aren’t already happy – you are wrong. If you don’g have basic and fundamental happiness in your life, seeking it from external facets won’t make it better.

“If you only look to your professional achievements to sustain your sense of purpose and well-being, a sense of emptiness or desperation is almost inevitable.“When that job is gone or when you get fired or you get really disillusioned by what you thought, then you are going to suffer.”

All-in-all, the second point of this post is that we have the power to define and make ourselves happy.

 3. 10 Behaviors of Smart People by Steve Tobak 

Stupid is as stupid does. It says a lot doesn’t it? That is the point that Tobak is making in this post. He has some great points actually, but more importantly he lists some of the things that smart people do. For example, learning from mistakes rather than repeating them and admitting that you don’t have all of the answers. I mean really, who really has all of the answers?

There are other behaviours (yes I am spelling this like a Canadian or a Brit), but this list is a great one.

So, I hope that you enjoy reading these posts. I seemed to have loved a lot of posts from this time around, but I do think that they are pretty great.

Until next time, be sure to check out our Twitter Feed and our website for more information!

Shel Israel: How Technology Is Changing the Buyer-Seller Relationship

Are you ready? Is your company ready? Technology is drastically changing the buyer-seller relationship and your survival could depend on just how proactive your business is. In today’s post, I catch up with Shel Israel, co-author of The Age of Context to get an update on how technology has developed in the year and a half since the book’s release. 

Shel Israel

Shel Israel

MacLean: First off, what project are you working on now that has you really excited?

IsraelI am working on a book that is intended to serve as a sequel to The Age of Context. In that book, Robert Scoble and I looked at the technologists. In this new book I am looking more at how businesses are using contextual technologies.

The book also examines how this technology is shifting power from the seller to the buyer through social media, reviews and star ratings.

MacLean: In The Age of Context you and Robert Scoble focused on wearable technology or wearable computing. A lot has transpired since then, what is your take on where we are headed? Was Google Glass just ahead of its time? Keeping in mind that Apple just launched their watch.

Israel:  In the short time since The Age of Context was published, a great deal has happened. The new era is becoming a reality far faster than I had imagined. In my new book, my attention expands from just those who are making new world-changing technology to those who are adopting it in existing businesses to enhance customer experiences.

This is a new era and there will be a great many experiments. We pioneer the future by trying and failing. One of the grandest and most visionary experiments so far is Google Glass. In itself, Glass was no success. But it has already spawned vertical apps that will endure. For example digital eye-wear is being used in surgery, where a remote expert can help a less experienced local practitioner. Elite auto brands such as Ferrari are using digital eye-wear to let factory experts assist local mechanics worldwide. A blind athlete named Lex Gillette has adapted Google Glass into his artificial eyes so that he can live-stream his races to handicapped children’s classrooms in real time, where kids see precisely what he sees in real time.

There will be more. Issues such as apps, battery, tethering to the phone, will be resolved either by Google or some other company who will owe its success to Google’s spectacularly brilliant first-round failure.

MacLean: It seems to follow that sensor data and sensor technology continues to be growing like crazy. There is so much potential. What is your take on where things are headed in this area? Have there been any surprises for you since the book has come out?

IsraelRobert and I now fold sensors into the larger category of the Internet of Things. This area is experiencing exponential growth. My focus has been in places where customer experience is being enhanced in retail: malls, department stores, stadiums, airports, concert halls, etc.

This is important to merchants.  For 20 years online retail has been sucking customers out of stores, and onto web sites. Now, the stores are using contextual technologies to enhance the customer experience at every touch point from, in-store mapping, to personalized text discount offers, to mobile apps that lock-and-unlock dressing room doors, knowing which customer can be allowed access. 

The surprise with sensors is not the devices themselves, which are simple little things that notice change and signal the change elsewhere, usually into the cloud. The real action is in the massive adoption we are seeing in proximity platforms such as Beacons, NewAer Proximity Platform and the hopes of Qualcomm LTE Direct which will be released in 2016 where Wi-Fi will replace Bluetooth, thus vastly expanding range and direct communications.

MacLean: Social media and social networking continues to thrive, but there have been some negatives. Do you think that people will begin to pull back a bit from social media, particularly in light of privacy concerns and/or data mining?

IsraelActually, I see the opposite.

Social media has become a mature platform. Those exciting days when large brands allowed real people to speak as humans from a brand blog or Twitter account has sadly diminished. Social Voices like Scott Monty at Ford, Richard Binhammer at Dell and Frank Eliason at Comcast are no more.

But the amazing phenomenon is that brand marketers have lost their control in social media because they could not learn how to converse as peers with customers. So now people use social media to talk with each other; our friends and previous customers influence much of what we buy, where we eat, what we watch and listen to. Customers do this in social media, on social networks in customer reviews, in star ratings of Uber and Lyft mobile apps. The brands are diminishing in exercising control over influence and message. There is a power shift that is diminishing the brands and elevating the customers. This is fundamental and wonderful in my view.

As for privacy, I have been researching Millennials a lot in recent months for the new book. They are far more concerned about the quality of their experiences, than their personal privacy. They see it more as transaction where they will volunteer personal data in exchange for a better customer experience online or in stores. There are now more Millennials in the marketplace than aging Boomers like me. 

Privacy is becoming less of an issue. What is replacing it is a sense of transaction: I will let you know who I am, where I am and what I want. In return for that, you will make my shopping/buying experience easier than ever before. If you want to put offers in front of me, that’s fine, just as long as they are personalized based on what I am interested in.

Marketers need to stop talking and start listening. [Heh, I’ve been saying that for ten years-but I guess they aren’t listening]. People tell marketers everything the need to know voluntarily on social networks already. We announce when are planning a vacation, a night out  at a restaurant or for entertainment over a billion  times every week on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. It is public and there for the culling by any marketer who cares to pay attention or understands how to search unstructured data.

All marketers have to do to make more money and profits and improve customer relationships and acquisition, is to pay attention to what customers are saying online, and in public. 

MacLean: Naturally you can’t speak of, or think of, social media and privacy without thinking about location data. Do you think that the concern around privacy might impact app development in this area? Or, are the apps just so cool and useful that people will accept the risk?

Israel: I think the shock and outrage related to personal data is subsiding. I think most people understand what is going on and have decided the upside of what this technology can do is worth the cost-because the apps improve the user/customer experience.

Yes, the apps are so cool. However, users have more choices than ever before, and they will have even more choices for at least the next few years.  They will choose the apps and merchants who give them the best experiences for the loss of their personal data. They also will prefer doing business with companies that allow them a few filtering options, as well as the right to correct wrong data and the ability to opt out during private moments.

MacLean: What impact do you think all of this has on business? Are businesses really leveraging technology and data the way they could be, or still in a wait and see mode?

IsraelAll this is new stuff in a new age, one in which users have far more control than has previously been possible.  For tangible retail, and other customer-facing businesses, this is a new hope. As mentioned we have witnessed online technologies for the last 20 years sucking customers out of the stores. Now with contextual technologies, particularly mobile apps, and proximity platforms such as Beacons, etc. they are modernizing the experiences in malls, stores, stadiums, airplane terminals, and concert halls.

Merchants are using this stuff in new ways, some of it is a bit clumsy, but there are other experiments that show great promise, such as smart mannequins that know when a loyalty program enrollee is interested in an item and wants to try it on. It can signal a clerk who then puts the garment, in the right color and size into a dressing room. The customer then uses a mobile app to unlock the dressing room door and try on the item.

In airports, there will soon be apps that tell shoppers how much time it will take them to get to the gate based on the walking speed that the mobile app is observing.

It’s amazing stuff and it has all just begun.

MacLean: What impact is all of this having on conversations with customers and prospects?

Israel: Contextual technology is now weaving itself into the fabric of the buyer-seller relationship. The data we just discussed, allows the seller to treat all participating customers as individuals, making offers and giving assistance when needed and being unobtrusive when that’s what the customer wants.

What’s also very important here are conversations between customers. We tell each other what and where to buy, travel, eat, watch and listen to. Technology has given customers great power to influence, recommend and warn against brands, and brands have less influence over customer decisions as customers rise in power.

MacLean: How are you using technology differently than you were a year ago?

IsraelIn the last year, I have not really changed much. I have my own portable, Wi-Fi and switched back to non-Bluetooth phones. I have probably double the number of mobile apps I am using. 

The real issue is that I am using more, much more, technology in more ways. I am using it more with family members and medical service providers. I am paying for more with online checking and starting to make mobile cheque deposits-although I get paid increasingly through electronic systems.

NOTE: this blog was commissioned for Opportunities New Brunswick.