Book – Decisive

DecisiveThough I am a fan of the authors, I did not expect this book to be so insightful and entertaining!  I listened to the book ones (via Audible) and will listen again – it worth the time and attention.

One of the interesting premises of the book is our need to accept human limitations and start using reasonable heuristics to compensate for shortcomings of our brain.

The Four Villains of Decision Making

  • You encounter a choice.  But narrow framing makes you miss options.
  • You analyze your options.  But the confirmation bias leads you to gather self-serving information.
  • intelYou make a choice. But short-tern emotion will often tempt you to make the wrong one.  “What would our successors do?” – Andy Grove (Intel)
  • Then you live with it.  But you’ll often be overconfident about how the future will unfold.

WRAP process of decision making:

  • Widen your options.
  • Reality-test your assumptions.
  • Attain some distance.
  • Prepare to be wrong.

Widen your options

A: Buy Snapple
B: Don’t buy Snapple.  Keep the $1.8 billion for other purchases. 

A: Fire an employee who excel at one task but fails in another task.
B: Is it possible to reorganize work to allow the employee work on more tasks where he/she excels?

“Whether of not” decision should set off warning bells.

Multitracking – consider more than one option simultaneously.

Web designers designing online ads simultaneously created more successful and creative ads – and were more satisfied with the process.

Beware of “sham options.”  (Kissinger: “Nuclear was, present policy, or surrender.”)  One diagnostic: if people on your team disagree about the options, you have real option.

Toggle between the promotion and prevention mindsets. Prevention focus = avoiding negative outcomes. Promotion focus = pursuing positive outcomes. Companies who used both mindsets performed much better after a recession. 

To widen your options:

  • sweemsuitFind someone who solved your problem.
  • Look for your own “bright spots
  • Look for analogies in other areas: Fiona Fairhurst designed a speedier swimsuit by laddering up and analyzing “anything that moves fast,” including sharks and torpedoes.

Reality-Test your assumptions

Consider the opposite.  Use devil’s advocate, murder boards, etc.

We can test our assumptions with a deliberate “mistake:”  a firm won a million dollars in usiness by experimenting with the RFP process.

“Zoom in, zoom out:”

  • If you can not find a “base rate” ask the expert.  Experts are good for base rate, but not good for predictions of the future. 
  • xerox“Zoom-in” Xerox: Anne Mulcahy overcome an issue of her executives distance from the customers.  Executives on rotating basis serve as customer officer of the day. The customer officer of the day dealt with all complaints that came to the company that day.

Ooch: Ooching – running small experiments to test our theories.

  • Ooching is useful when we can predict the future, but can try (students volunteering in their chosen field before finalizing their major)
  • Research shows that experts’ predictions are worse than simple extrapolations from base rates.
  • cars-directCarsDirect tried selling cars over the internet before major business investment.

Common hiring error: We try to predict success via interviews rather than ooching.  Studies show that interviews are less diagnostic than work samples, peer rating, etc.  Can you nix the interview and offer a short-term consulting contract?

Attain distance before deciding

10/10/10 rule provides distance by forcing us to consider future emotions as much as present ones.

  • How would you feel about your plan in 10 minutes?
  • How would you feel about your plan in 10 months?
  • How would you feel about your plan in 10 years?

What would I tell my best friend to do in this situation?

USS-BenfoldHonor your core priorities: MIT study: Managers had done no work on their core priorities in the previous week.

Pursue core prioreties: On the USS Benfold, the crew actively fougth the List B items like repainting( e.g., by using stainless-steel bolts that would not leave rust stains).

Prepare to be wrong

Bookend the future – consider the range of outcomes from very bad to very good.

Use premortem: “It is a year from now. Our decision has failed utterly.  Why?”
Use preparade: “It is a year from now.  We are heroes.  Will we be ready for success?”

softsoapThe producer of Softsoap, hoping for a huge national launch, locked down the supply of plastic pumps for 18 to 24 months.

Anticipating problems helps us cope with them. The “realistic job preview”: Revealing a job’s warts up front “vaccinates” people against dissatisfaction.

ZapposSet a tripwire.  Tripwire can snap us awake and make us realize we have a choice. Zappos’ $1000 “to quit” offer created a conscious fork in the road for new hires.  Tripwires can have a safe space for risk taking.

Trusting the process: decisions made by groups have an additional burden: They must be seen as fair.

Wonderful book!  Heath Brothers resources – info, newsletter, etc.


Eloqua Users Group – May 2013



Very useful event as usually.  We reviewed the latest developments, issues, and rumors 😉 .  One of interesting points: nobody seem to found a way of connecting email design, development, and Eloqua.  Actually, I don’t remember anybody at the event who figured a perfect way for email design itself – who does it?  Vendors?  In-house?  A combination??  It is probably a good opportunity for a new company to come to the market with a good knowledge of emails design and coding… and make all of us happy 😉


ArchivesOther points and links:

Relationship One maintains an archive of Eloqua Users Group presentations  – very convenient to know.


NormalatorNormalator – another Eloqua app – the app allows to clean up data base easier than a traditional “data washing machine” and is considered easier to setup for people who are not familiar with Program Builder


We also mentioned an article How to Capture Referring Sources to Landing Pages and in Forms using Query Strings and what can be done to setup Eloqua forms (and combination with analytics).  My honest realization is the need for knowledgeable consultants when any form settings, etc. is accomplished.


Book – Brainfluence

brainfluenceExcellent book!  Fun and also useful.  In some way, the book validates (or in some cases discredits) industry heuristics that every marketer has in mind.  We live in the interesting time – marketing is “graduating” as science and we finally have data to build new heuristics…  and test them easily.  No more personal preferences and hurt ego (oh, not sure about hurt egos of people who had personal preferences); for most of us it is a very exiting world!

A few points from the book:

  • Parting with money is painful for many people (I happen to be one of those); different type of personalities could respond better to different approach.  The idea of “bargain” is very powerful (such as a comparison with a much more expensive offer).  Example: a girl scout who sold the most cookies asked for a substantial donation to the organization first, and then offered to purchase a little box of cookies – the purchase seemed much more affordable.
  • Humans a predisposed to pay attention to pictures of babies.  We are “wired” to take care of human babies, but the idea of starving millions of babies is not as powerful as an image of an individual infant.  Conversion would increase if a product can be associated with a baby (related product).  For example, a nonprofit soliciting donation would receive more donations if the image on the donation page would be a baby (rather than an older child or a family).
  • Interesting: real paper (DM piece) has more emotional response than an electronic material. 
  • “Priming by money” makes people act more selfishly and less cooperatively.  For example, showing images of money before a conversation with a stranger will encourage a person even to place chairs for the conversation with a stranger further apart.
  • “New Coke” explained scientifically as influence of a brand.  People tasting the same product would enjoy the product more (based on brain scans) if they believe that it is a “better” product disregarding of its intrinsic taste.
  • Magic of “Free” – a very low price is still incomparable with “free” – people would forgo a more significant bargain if they have to pay even 1 cent, but will select a less beneficial, but completely free offer.  Example: Amazon introduced a free shipping, and sales immediately jumped globally, except France.  France did not try the completely free offer – the offer was equivalent to 1 cent for shipping, what was a bargain, but sales did not increase.  When the shipping became completely free, the sales experienced the same jump as in other locations.
  • Fonts: simple fonts are easier to understand and people are more likely to read them.  However, more complex fonts imply luxury and higher quality.  Plus, people who read a paragraph in a more complex font are more likely to remember its content (if they will actually read it 😉  ).
  • Renaming: in many cases, products can “sound” healthier even if it is exactly the same product.  Pasta salad does not sound as healthy as vegetable dish.
  • Percentages are more difficult to perceive than “one of…” People would consider percentages less impactful.  From another side, if the percentage is 99.9% to emphasize that it is close to 100% – the percentage could be impactful.
  • Apologies work!  🙂

UXPA – Design and Innovation

InnovationThough I am not a member of UXPA (yet), I see more an more events very useful for an average online marketer.  The Design and Innovation: The Human Perspective event was very insightful; Ryan Ambruster was an amazing speaker, and I was surprisingly happy to see improvements in United Health Group, where I used to work a few years ago 😉

Ryan explained that one of his primary objectives is to elevate innovation to an organizational competency.  UHG was generally formed by acquisition, and at one point the company thought a need to direct more efforts on internal innovation and organic grow in general.

UHG-innovationThough UHG size impose understandable constraints “unless it is a billion dollar idea, don’t bring it to the table,” the company was able to invest into new approach.  UHG created an innovation center (very nice!) where project teams can rent space to work on the projects.  UHG has received industry innovation awards and takes its innovation approach seriously (the company created a web site describing its innovation successes and aspirations).

Lesson of innovation 

Ideas and creativity are almost irrelevant to innovation. 🙂  How to implement an idea is the main organizational challenge.  However, even more important point is to understand which questions to solve – where to apply the organizational energy.


There are three styles of innovation: 

  • Market-based (market situation changed or government regulations have been modified and organizations have to adapt)
  • Technology-based (a new technology becomes available, and everybody starts thinking “what useful can we do with this thing now?” – usual approach to results from basic research or adaptation of military applications)
  • Need-based (innovation that grows out of a specific need and helps to solve an existing problem – wheels on bags to handle luggage easier) – this is the best type of innovation


Approach to innovation (innovation science): focus on reliable and repeatable methods of innovations, not necessarily results as results may be based on luck.

Organizational structure of innovation:  People who is “running the ship” should be able to do their job, and generate observations and ideas, participate in review of the innovation program.  The organization should have a different group of people different from the group responsible for “running the ship”  to run the innovation process and implementation.

Innovation prioritization: in many cases our understanding of innovation is based on knowledge of break-through” innovation, what is a rare event, even it is the type of innovation most likely described in media.  Organizations are more likely to spend their efforts on “sustaining innovation” – innovation helping current business/operations and not necessarily contributing in any new approaches, market differentiation, etc.  Sustaining innovation activity will be always more extensive and immediately beneficial for the company.

How to accept failure – an inherent part of innovation.  Ryan recommended not to accept failure, but to “re-define” it.  The failure of innovation process happens only when the organization has not learn anything from the experience.  If the organization learned from the experience, it is not a failure; the effort can save investment that would not be targeted to the area that did not work.

Innovation example from UHG (need-based):

People visiting ophthalmologist typically do not think about health issues, but rather about the style of frames they are planning to pick up.  (Totally different approach to my native country – was very surprising for me).  However, over 30 health conditions can be detected during a routine eye exam.  Because of the patient’s perception of a eye exam as unrelated to the general health, referrals from ophthalmologists to primary care physicians were not followed as recommended.  UHG solved the problem by adding a nurse-coordinator, who connected ophthalmologist with primary care physician and assured continuity of care.

Hope for the future:

One organization had a “department of questions” – a person who would report to the board and through talking with different people of the organization try to determine which are the most important questions to ask.  Most organizations can probably benefit from something similar  😉

Book – Conversations That Win the Complex Sale

book-conversationsWonderful book, very useful for marketers, and a pleasure to read!  🙂   I particularly liked the examples of differentiation – the Value Wedges – from different companies; in many case the companies seemingly have a very common product.

Interesting points:

  • One CMO’s description of a sales meeting: “You’d better be able to tell me something I don’t already know, about a problem I didn’t even know I had, if you want to get a meeting with me.”
  • You want to focus on the area where what you can do for the customers is different from what the competition can do – The Value Wedge.  This area must be 1. Important to your prospect, 2. Unique to your company, 3. Defensible.



  • Differentiation of a cleaning service: cleaning for health “Get healthier clean at no extra cost.”
  • The Hammock – any message will be remembered not in its entirety: the beginning is remembered at 70%, end at 100%, and the middle only at 20%.  During the middle of the presentation the information need to be unusual/unexpected/interesting.



  • Good content to use “in the hammock” – the grabbers:
    • What if you …   questions (what if your documentation was automatically created for you…)
    • Number plays (giving a few numbers and then explaining the meaning of the numbers
  • Promoting hand-washing in a hospital: taking a culture from physicians’ hands after lunch, demonstrating the result, and using the picture of the result as a screen saver on all hospital computers

Defining the Value Wedge is probably the most difficult part for any company 😉

Book – Customer Message Management

CMMThought this is not the book to read for pleasure on Sunday afternoon, the information contained in the volume is very valuable for marketers and sales.

The main idea that made the most impression on me is the change in the marketplace and recommendation how to handle the change.  In any market, 2-3 top similar products are rather similar.  To avoid commodization and to sell based on value the product brings rather than on the features it has, a company should adopt different selling approach.  The company needs to identify the pains that the prospect has and demonstrate how its products can help the prospect to alleviate the situation.

The methodology prepares messaging that can be used later by sales people of the organization to sell products based on value rather than a set of features.

Interesting points:

  • 90% of content created for sales support is not used by the field
  • interesting point on automation (and well-deserved 😉  ) – automating ineffective content will not increase the quality of the content “automated chaos is still chaos”
  • Salespeople are opportunity-specific, just-in-time learners.  If messaging and training are not in the context of the sales process, then sales will not see the content – or the marketers who created it – as relevant to the way they sell solutions.

CMM Principle 1 – Integrate marketing and sales processes

Provides common approach and language for creating and delivering content and support that helps facilitate the customer buying process

CMM Principle #2 – Create customer-relevant messaging

Puts messaging in customer context based on who they are, and what they are trying to achieve

CMM Principle #3 – Sales cycle-relevant collateral

Customer messaging is relevant and useful across the sales cycle in critical moments of truth and for advancing a deal toward close

CMM Principle #4 – Centralized online accessibility

A single, centralized online repository of your best selling messages makes it easier for marketing to manage and sales to use

Sales often create clandestine collateral; marketers should pay attention to this activity as it can illustrate what is missing.  Oh – every marketer probably discovered some of these materials at one point or another 😉