Blow Up Bedrooms….

lifestyleairbnb

Data Pulse #23

When a few programmers and bloggers bought some air-beds , built a website and offered an air-bed with a coffee on their floor during a particularly busy conference season in San Francisco, they didn’t think they’d be creating a dis intermediation business to rival Marriott or Intercontinental Hotels.

Airbnb is a lodging rental platform with headquarters in San Francisco, California.

airbnb has grown staggeringly quickly over the past half-dozen years. The mind-boggling numbers show its incredible popularity; 1.5million listings in 33,000 cities in 191 countries around the world have attracted 65million guests – and counting.

 

Last June the company was priced at $25.5billion (above hotel giant Marriott’s $20.90bn), and ranked the third most valuable start-up business in the world, behind transportation network company Uber ($51billion), and Xiaomi, the world’s fourth-largest smartphone maker ($46bn).

airbnb has used data to deliver against the brand purpose, tell the brand story and build the customer experience . “Experience the world like a local” 

 

airbnb describes itself as a ‘community marketplace where guests can book spaces from hosts, connecting people who have space to spare with those who are looking for a place to stay.’ A super brand that is community led.

The hosts are business partners, and airbnb is led by what the business partners say, continually getting their opinion and gauging reaction to business challenges and opportunities. It quickly builds a sense of openness, trust and meaningful interacton to form a strong community.

Every year, some 5,000 hosts from more than 100 countries are invited to the company’s airbnb Open (the 2015 edition was held in Paris) and encouraged to talk about the nature of their work. It is a great opportunity to both connect with the hosts and understand how airbnb can help serve them better. It is also a good way to feel part of that broader global community and the local area.

airbnb ran an innovative campaign to engage not only hosts but visitors in the airbnb community. The One Less Stranger campaign – where 100,000 hosts woke up on New Year’s Day, 2015, to an email from airbnb’s founder Brian Chesky saying he had paid $10 into their bank account – was an instance when “full editorial control” was taken away from Airbnb. Brian wrote that we would like the hosts to do something to help someone else, and to meet someone new with that money, It was a $1million marketing campaign where we gave full editorial control to the hosts. Some people just pocketed the money, but the idea here is that you can allow people who are your biggest advocates to be your spokespersons, and do your marketing for you, on social media and word of mouth.

It all builds up to the goal that your brand is driven by community rather than people in a marketing department.

 ‘It’s far better to have 100 people love you than 100,000 people sort of like you.’

airbnb also use data to make a ever growing core of people love them . The platform has disrupted the traditional hotels industry by eliminating the middle man and connecting travellers directly with people who have space to offer. airbnb collects detailed data relating to how customers are using the platform and attributes much of its success to an ability to analyse and understand how to improve the service.

airbnb employs extensive A/B testing to score multiple configurations or designs of its website and apps. Different users will also be exposed to different ranking and recommendation algorithms – the variation they experience is then linked to their next actions – viewing patterns, bookings and ultimately reviews of their stay.

airbnb uses natural language processing to decipher users’ true feelings about their stay, finding this to be more accurate than simple star rankings (which, they hypothesise, are overinflated due to the personal contact between guest and host).

Must admit i was a little nervous using airbnb for the first time ,. Found a little room in deepest Shoreditch, better than the local Premier Inn and cheaper… but now i’m a convert

Use Storytelling to explain your company’s purpose

 

The idea of “purpose” has swept the corporate world. Encouraged by evangelists like Simon Sinek, myriad firms like Coop, are devoting real time and attention to explaining why they do. But activating purpose is impossible without storytelling, at both the corporate and individual levels. Purpose is essential to a strong corporate culture, it is often activated and reinforced through narrative. Individuals must learn to connect their drives to the organization’s purpose and to articulate their story to others.

This is hard for most business leaders. Great leaders are often humble and reticent to speak about themselves. This impulse is admirable, but it falls short of what’s needed to inspire people to join in the purpose of an organization. And many businesspeople feel more comfortable with waterfall charts and P&Ls than with telling their own stories.

Only narrative can do that. Storytelling is a skill that leaders can — and should — hone.

Self, Us, Now

Ganz argues that for people to inspire others with the mission of their organization or cause, they must first link that mission to their own motivations, and then connect it through story to those of the people they are hoping to persuade. Ganz has developed a simple framework for those hoping to develop a narrative approach to their purpose-driven organizations: ” Self, Us Now”

Self

To create a public narrative for your own organization, start with “self.” This is perhaps the most difficult part for many businesspeople because it involves focusing on real events in one’s own life and explaining how these incidents established the values that will later link to the values of the organization.

steve jobs stanford

An excellent example of this is Steve Jobs’s address to the Stanford graduating class in 2005. The address was largely a deeply personal reflection on Jobs’s personal history — his working-class upbringing, his dropping out of college. Perhaps more importantly, however, he spoke about how his love of calligraphy instilled with him a love of design that would later guide his work at Apple, and how his cancer diagnosis reinforced in him a deep desire to live passionately and authentically — as if each day were his last. It’s beautiful storytelling, and it gives you a glimpse into who Jobs was, what he valued, and how that would later guide his work at Apple and elsewhere. What’s compelling about Jobs’s address is that it seems authentic and raw. A great story of self has to be a real story of self. Finding that story may require a leader to reflect deeply on her past and motivations, and communicate them honestly — even those parts that are embarrassing or imperfect.

Us

The next step, “us,” aims to connect these values with broader shared values of the audience — clients or employees, for example. In this step, you weave your own personal narrative into the narratives of others through shared values, experiences, hopes, and aspirations. In doing so you create a common narrative for the group or organization. In literature, a well-known example of this (one that Ganz often highlights in class) is the St. Crispin’s Day speech from William Shakespeare’s Henry V. In it, King Henry, attempting to motivate an English army demoralized by their lack of strength, calls on his troops to be a “band of brothers” fighting valiantly together for each other, their country, and the values they share.

anita roddick.jpg

While it’s miles away from the battlefield of Agincourt, The Body Shop is a Good example of how a business applied this technique. They focused telling the story of their mission : ‘To dedicate our business to the pursuit of social and environmental change.’ using our stores and our products to help communicate human rights and environmental issues. They feature the story of their founder Anita Roddick on the website. The story of Anita and her husband founding the Body Shop in Brighton in 1976. Anita wanted to found a health and beauty products skin care, hair care and make-up that are produced ethically and sustainably. It was the first beauty company to ban testing on animals use Fairtrade products and still sources Fairtrade products from around the world.  Anita was company spokesperson for years beyond her operational involvement. Just before Anita’s death in 2007 Body Shop was sold to L’Oreal , acting as a “Trojan Horse for environmental change within multinational organisations”.  A great “story of us” establishing a community, its values and how they came to be.

http://www.anitaroddick.com/aboutanita.php

Now

Finally, the close is what Ganz calls the “now” — an urgent call to action for those who wish to share the purpose of a group or an organization. Consider Great Ormond Street Hospital. one of the most trusted charities in UK.  The organization’s purpose is “Finding Cures. Saving Children,” and their site is filled with the stories of the kids they serve. Their call to action – often, simply to give financially — is simple, direct, and compelling in their videos and materials. meet patients like Dominic….. ( and Joe,Lara.Matthew,Sophia,Stanley, Zihora….)

http://www.gosh.org/meet-our-patients/dominic

Kickstarter

Kickstarter, similarly, has an impactful way of asking people to join its team. That narrative starts by having its founder tell the story of the company (the “self”). Their website includes pictures and short descriptions of each and every company employee (“the us”). Finally, the narrative culminates its “now” call to action with a careers page asking: “Love Kickstarter? You’ll fit right in.” These stories are most powerful when they are individually authentic, build to a collective narrative and values, and then seal the deal by asking the person reading, watching, or listening to join in.

Storytelling can be awkward and unfamiliar to many professionals, particularly if you’re sharing personal experiences. Yet the motivation for this storytelling is not self-aggrandizement, but to create a purpose and culture that others can share.

Purpose is what builds real passion, motivation, and buy-in for the stakeholders of any organization. And it can be articulated by leaders who’ve learned to tell their stories and the stories of the organizations, people, and causes they serve.

 

5 ways hard-headed leaders promote innovation

innovation

I have known many CEOs and CMOs over my career. The best ones created innovative transformational cultures. Many tried. Some failed to comprehend the definition of the word itself; others lacked the vital leadership traits to inspire creativity and implement great ideas. Those who were adept at driving innovation and sustaining it over the long haul had one thing in common: they were hard-headed.

Their tough-mindedness came from an unshakable belief that innovation is critical to corporate survival, and that without powerful and constant change, innovation would be elusive. These trailblazers were innovative leaders, but surprisingly some of them weren’t creative, themselves. That didn’t matter because they were good a recognizing great ideas and welcoming change. No change, no innovation.

So, how do unshakable leaders create change and how to they sustain the innovation outcome?

  1. They unsettle the organization. There’s a host of companies that get things done, control performance, spot problems and deliver their budgets. But the structures, the processes and the people that keep things ticking along can snuff good ideas and block movement through the system. Innovative leaders appreciate that there is a difference between what’s needed to run a business and what’s needed to foster creativity. This ethic prevents excessive layering from killing ideas before they reach the top.
  2. They’re hardheaded about strategy.  Leaders who embrace innovation have a pretty clear idea of the kind of competitive edge they’re seeking. They’ve thought hard about what’s practical and what’s not. So the approach is not wishy-washy, but focused and driven. When this methodology brings results, employees become disciples of the strategy and the culture that facilitates execution.
  3. They make innovation a priority in the “walk” as well as the “talk.” When executive teams demonstrate innovative thinking and practices, the rest of the organization is clear on direction. This facilitates coherent cross-functional teamwork and an innovative modus operandi that encourages diverse viewpoints.
  4. They take note of what’s already going on with a view to balancing creative thinking with the discipline of assessing solutions and their implementation. The best backdrop for spurring innovation is knowledge – knowing the business cold. Good ideas often flow from the process of looking at customers, competitors, and the business as a whole.
  5. They appreciate that not many ideas work the first time, so they’re prepared to praise failure, move on, or try again until the company gets it right. From there, innovative leaders marshal resources behind a few winners and then execute like the SKY Cycle team

Innovative leaders are a special breed. They aren’t as interested in “minding the store” as they are about “opening new stores.” Nor are they shy to admit to controlling strategic direction, influencing the culture, and monitoring the process and practice that unleashes business’s most elusive success factor.

great leaders business

Defining your Brand Tone of Voice

digital

The language of a brand is really decided by two things: where you are looking to position your brand in the marketplace; and the personality that you choose to adopt.

  • Brand leaders speak with authority and surety. Their language focuses on stability, history and confidence.
  • Brand challengers speak with defiance. They seek to challenge the way things are so their language focuses on change, hope and (sometimes) revolution.
  • Cult brands focus on exclusivity – so their language is peppered with tribal terms.
  • Artisan brands focus on craft and attention to detail so their language tends to be quieter, more insular and focused on the work.
  • Budget brands often use language based on frugality (how much you save) or generosity (what you get).
  • Quality brands seek to be steady and trustworthy.

 

In all cases, the language you use as a brand is directly aligned with your value proposition because, of course, language is a very powerful way of capturing and expressing how you see yourselves as a brand and how you want others to think and talk about you.

Personality picks up on these points of view and defines them more specifically. This helps brands in busy and highly competitive markets to distinguish their brand where there may be several brands competing in or for a market position. Here are three of the most important ways to evoke personality through language:

 

  1. Formality – the type of language that a brand uses is a strong indicator of the type of relationship it is looking to form with customers, and of how the brand sees the exchange between them and their consumer.
  2. Dialect – every brand should seek to own language of its own; a way of talking about what it does and what it stands for that complements the visual identity and adds color and texture in terms of how the brand speaks. Don’t just speak the industry language.
  3. Rhythm – every brand needs a speech pattern. It needs to speak at a certain speed, in particular ways, so that consumers consciously or sub-consciously ‘hear’ the brand’s voice in every interaction.

Once you know where you want to position your brand and you have established a personality that speaks to the strategy and distinguishes the brand from competitors, a really sensible next port of call is the frontline.

Speaking with colleagues is a highly effective way of gauging what customers are looking for in exchanges with the brand, what they like about how they interact now, and where they would like to see clear changes in the tone of communications.  Start inside out . These insights should then be applied to content and structuring of information as well as to tone.

Too often brands fail to make all these changes. They develop a new tone of voice to sit alongside their visual identity but they only apply it to a slither of the interactions they have with consumers.

When a brand fails to carry its new voice through to all its touchpoints, it quickly muddies expectations and experiences. Customers expecting the brand to behave in a particular way find themselves being spoken with in a different, often conflicting, way elsewhere within the same brand.

Here’s my rule. A brand may speak in multiple languages – but it should look as much as possible to speak in one distinctive tone of voice everywhere.

Using storytelling to kickstart engagement

kickstarter-2

 

Using storytelling and data to explain your organisations purpose is very effective with three levels “The Self”, “The us” and “the We”

Kickstarter is a crowd-funding organisation for the arts: the company’s stated mission is to “help bring creative projects to life” . 

Kickstarter is an enormous global community built around creativity and creative projects. Over 10 million people, from every continent on earth, have backed a Kickstarter project. Some of those projects come from influential artists like De La Soul or Marina Abramović. Most come from amazing creative people you probably haven’t heard of — from Grandma Pearl to indie filmmakers to the band down the street. Every artist, filmmaker, designer, developer, and creator on Kickstarter has complete creative control over their work — and the opportunity to share it with a vibrant community of backers.

Kickstarter has reportedly received more than $1.9 billion in pledges from 9.4 million backers to fund 257,000 creative projects, such as films, music, stage shows, comics, journalism, video games, technology and food-related projects.

Kickstarter uses storytelling to engage people .

It has an impactful way of asking people to join its team.

That narrative starts by having its founder tell the story of the company (the “self”).

Their website includes pictures and short descriptions of each and every company employee  (“the us”).

Finally, the narrative culminates its “now” call to action with a careers page asking: “Love Kickstarter? You’ll fit right in.”

These stories are most powerful when they are individually authentic, build to a collective narrative and values, and then seal the deal by asking the person reading, watching, or listening to join in.

Hitchhikers Guide to Disintermediation

Bla Bla1

# Data Pulse 42

When I was a student at Durham University  we’d walk up to the A.1 , stick out our thumbs and Hitch a ride south. Sometimes we waited for a long time, and sometimes we had a very odd ride, but we had time and little money.

I’ve just driven my daughter back to Bristol University and things have changed dramatically in the last 30 years.

Bla Bla Car is a digitally enabled ride-sharing network, connecting travellers who are making similar journeys so that they can save on travel costs and meet like-minded from trusted community of more than 20 million verified members. it’s a great example of understanding customers stories and then developing a brand story using data and digital that works for customers , fitting for them .

Drivers who want to offer a seat in their car submit the details of their journey online and set a price per passenger. Someone looking for a lift can then search the offered journeys and book a place. After meeting at an agreed point and completing the journey, the users then rate each other. The feedback system promotes trust within the community so that people can feel safe and secure when sharing a journey

Bla Bla 3

Bla Bla 2

A fast growing example of a community sharing organisation that brings together users with excess capacity for their capital investment (someones car) with a user who has a need for that excess capacity, at in improved value for money .