Mitch Joel
Mitch Joel

Mitch Joel: How To Handle 'The Big Bad Wolf' Of Disruption

Looking for a way for your business to handle the big bad wolf of disruption? There are “three little pigs" that can help, says digital marketing visionary Mitch Joel: transformation, innovation and transaction.

“The power of transformation in terms of how you think about how do you get more digital, how do you get savvier is about you really using the same tools your fans and your customers are using day in and day out,” says Joel during his recent CMW presentation. "Innovation is all of your ability as a business and brand to create digital products and services after your customers.  What does that look like? It means not just advertising, but connecting to them."

Joel says that a new type of transaction - the third "little pig" -  has emerged "that is extremely valuable and most businesses, brands and bands don't even think about: microtransactions."

A business model where users can purchase virtual goods through micropayments, microtransactions are much more accessible and prevalent than many realize. But they're often overlooked.

Joel blames part of the confusion lies in "vanity metrics," such as the number of views accumulated on a webpage or identified by "likes."  He says they're misleading.

"It's the wrong metric," Joel notes. "These are all microtransactions and you need to understand that every single microtransaction has value - assuming somebody likes your page on Facebook, watches the video, signs up for the newsletter and so on.

"What you need to ask yourself and your partners is this: what are the shortest courses of micro-transactions that gets us to the macro-transaction? It could be a download of a song; it could be anything. 

“It's a new way for you to think about whether you're trying to get a fan or trying to grow your business -  this idea of transformation."

Joel says that rather than focus on some of the big technological changes contributing to disruption, business owners should instead look to the little changes.

"What I mean by "little changes," is that your customers or fans have adopted and changed to technology in a very fluid and organic way unlike we've ever seen before," he explained. "That's the real focus here. So don't think about the big overbearing, 'how do I deal with this?' Think of all the little changes and how your customers or fans are moving through this."

Some other takeaways from his 50-minute talk:

Joel said there are three key elements to be a business success in today's market.: "Content has to be image-based; it has to be a mobile-first experience and that social has to be built into it."

Joel warns that it is imperative that digital businesses focus on mobile.

"This is the year of business mobile," he stated. "The businesses your brands, your bands, that don't make mobile-first experiences, are the ones that are going to lose tremendous market share starting literally right now. All of us are very habituated with Snapchat, Twitter, Uber, Tinder and on and on."

Another looming trend: voice activation.

"Voice is quickly becoming the new way we navigate technology," he notes. "We're going to stop clicking, stop touching, stop scrolling - we're going to be seeing things like (hands-free speaker) Amazon Echo. Things like Siri. We're starting to see this now. We're moving to a place where voice becomes the navigation.

"People are now buying at a higher pace and more just by their voice.  Now think of optimizing for voice. It's not these massive things. It's these little nuances that we've created that are making these big changes for us."

A former music journalist and co-founder of Distort Music (Alexisonfire, City and Colour),  the Montréal-based Joel, 46, has authored two influential best-sellers - 2010's Six Pixels of Separation and 2013's CTRL ALT Delete.

He is president of Mirum, an agency and subsidiary of the J. Walter Thompson Company and the WPP communications services group which "helps guide brands in business transformation, experience development, and commerce and activation," according to the WPP site.



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