Admission #1:  We flunked high school calculus.

[So maybe the teacher had an issue with our mouthing off.]

These days, though, it doesn’t pay to get snarky with math or its proponents.  Because in every hour of our work life, numbers come into play.

Colleagues in our sister industries have similar concerns, especially about media measurement.  That stalwart of our parents’ TV black boxes, Nielsen, recently publicized a solution – its new C7 rating would accommodate a week’s worth of views, the total time spent on different platforms (from Netflix to cable to YouTube), and the average audience size.  In partnership with Facebook, it also aims to deliver age and gender demographics for online video viewers.

Digging in deep, the questions still proliferate:

  • Will this account for the folks who (admission #2:  like us) save TiVO- and Roku-recorded content to replay AFTER a week?  Or those who binge-watch specific series and programs way after their debuts?
  • Will this drill down into audience profiles so we know the true value of what’s being sold and bought?
  • Finally (and probably most significant, in our eyes):  Will this C7 analyze attention – how intently people engage with content?

Hey, advertisers aren’t the only ones who yearn to get those kinds of scores.  Those of us practicing change inside companies haven’t yet figured out employee engagement with content – let alone with the corporation.

Or have we?


A few weeks ago, ad agency JWT announced its first-ever report on Female Tribes.

[Do ignore the fact that the agency’s former chair might be facing a lawsuit re alleged sexist and racist remarks.]

Though the news release and subsequent coverage were sketchy (we suspect the details are being saved for current and prospective clients), it supposedly looks at the rise of “female capital” and the value women bring as leaders, wealth creators, and artists.  Twenty different tribes, from cultural icons and Asian alphas to teen activists, were identified from a base of 4,300 female respondents in nine countries (ages range from 18 to 70).

Three “arghhs” come from us: 

First, because this kind of survey – regardless of depth and breadth – appears to be a sort of typology foisted on top of what we as women know are our differences and commonalities.  After all, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to pick out Beyoncé as a cultural icon and Malala Yousafzai as a teen activist (among other tribes). 

Second, the use of the phrase “female capital.”  It reminds us of time spent in professional services firms where they categorized work in HR and talent as human capital.  A phrase that’s not really descriptive and definitely dehumanizing.

And third, the sad fact that, to our knowledge, this is the first attempt to figure out the world of women from a perspective that doesn’t involve why we buy. 

Anyone ask Gloria Steinem?


Does every demographic in your marketplace – public or private, external or internal – get the same amount of attention and respect?

Recent statistics caught us up:

  • ·       Boomers buy two times as much online as young adults
  • ·       They’ll control 70 percent of U.S. disposable income by 2017
  • ·       And those over 50 years old buy nearly five times as many new cars than the coveted 18 to 34-year demographic.

Yet why do many of us dye gray hairs, fib about our age, and delete graduation dates from resumes?  And why do so many advertisers and communicators ignore us or play down to us (cf. Beatrice of the eSurance spot)?

The unwritten, unspoken answer – and one we’ve intuited before:  America’s all about the youth culture, the supposed trend-setters.  They’re the courted ones (before age 49, that is), those who will influence for years to come. 

Sheer numbers, though, count.  Which is why AARP, Intel, and Walmart teamed up to offer a ready-to-go, 24/7 customer service-centered tablet, available this month.  Which is why the discipline of knowledge management, capturing workers’ wisdom and intelligence, is one of the hottest offerings from professional services firms.  Which is why an Oprah Winfrey and a Diane von Furstenberg still draw huge crowds, young and old, on the public circuit.

We won’t belabor the point, except to ask:  Are all your communications relevant to all your audiences? 


A long time ago, in marketing lands far away (nearby too), we took great delight in classifying our customers, past, present, and future, by groups.  That effort, a/k/a segmentation, could take any number of forms – demographic, geo-demographic, behavioral, lifetime value, occasional, or by the products developed by research firms. 

For a while, that type of identification worked fairly well, leading those of us who specialize in change and behavioral matters to adopt those methods for our messages.  Our thinking:  If we could segment into measurable subsets of colleagues who were a) easy to reach and b) would respond consistently to our messaging, we could ensure awareness, at least, if not action.  [Of course, the premise worked best if your colleagues numbered in the thousands.]  With social media, listservs morphed into social communities, formed on dozens of specifications.  Ergo, those employees fascinated by CSR would rsvp to specific community activities, whereas those intent on becoming cross-functional team “volunteers” to study/solve a business problem would raise their hands.

It don’t work so good these days.  First, many fit into a variety of groups:  Like a hyper-involved philanthropist (a single dad) who also leads an R&D team and travels like a banshee.  Or a work-life balance advocate who works virtually as a sales professional, yet wants to contribute her two-cents’ worth to corporate affinity groups.  Even a marketing assistant (and women’s rights fan) who helps with team-building and conferences, yet has a passion for values-driven causes.

Second is the question:  What am I missing if I sign up for X but not Y?  There’s an innate something in us curious beings that always wonders if we might miss a community notice for, say, Habitat for Humanity volunteers – if we’re not in that forum.  Those working on a business metrics project might lose out when, for instance, an accounting forum mentions some of the latest and greatest.

Finally, consider today’s commandment to change and reinvent ourselves – continually, inside and outside the corporation.  We won’t always be categorized as a procurement analyst.  As an MBA-LLD in the pharma world.  As a sustainability guru in animal health and welfare.  What happens, then, to the already classified mega- and mini-mes?