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Aarron Spinley

An irreverent series for marketers, builders, leaders, and thinkers. Not always right, but always forthright!


When I wonder, did the marketing and customer experience people lose their mojo? There is an almost cheerleader culture in the ranks, where we repeat catchphrases, slogans, and mantras without stopping to think. It’s as if, someone ran off with our brain. Well, I beg to differ!

Do you like my introduction?

I‘m using “provocative appeals” theory, where the principal (me!) seeks to provoke an audience into engagement through anti-establishment, or even extreme narrative. Now, I hope it worked, because I so want you to read this. But also, I’m serious.

The “Profession” — I’ll use that term to wrap…

Our obscene complicity with harmfulness and a call to action from the Interactive Advertising Bureau

Credit: Getty Images

All over the world right now, a whole bunch of performance advertising folks are sweating. There is wrenching of hands, clammy palms, and for some, quite deep anxiety. Feathers, my friends, are ruffled.

And all of it, because of Apple.

Yes, that old fruit impersonating tech giant, who we all love, and occasionally hate, but mostly love. Mostly.

Truth be told, Apple has gone and opened up a can of worms that should have been opened long ago. Their new operating system, iOS14, will now require apps to get your permission before arbitrarily collecting your information.

Ergo, a whole lot…

And the big lie we tell to hide it

Henry Ford. Source: Hindustan Times

Anyone that has followed my work, knows that one of its mini-trends is to call out industry myths. Mainly because there are so many that undermine growth. I guess that’s why I call my column, “I Beg to Differ”.

But this piece is about something more insidious than a myth. I reckon we have a deeply engrained falsehood, right at the roots of our profession.

They say the most toxic lie is the one you tell yourself.

And that’s precisely what the industry does. It’s not necessarily intentional. Not most of the time anyway. But it is, nevertheless, the cause…

And embrace the rise of individualization

Photo by Dave Herring on Unsplash

Making a statement like, “It’s time to move on from personalization” is kind of a big deal to me. Huge, in fact.

I’ve written a lot about the importance of personalization. I’ve even given keynotes on the subject. So penning this title felt, well, kinda incongruent. A flip-flop even.

And on the surface, it is. But actually, it’s not.

That’s because everything I have published has been about the next chapter of personalization, reflective of the major shift that is occurring in mature marketing organizations the world over.

In early 2020 I wrote a piece on ZDNet that forecast a…

The shortcut confusing an entire profession

Twentieth Century Fox: Inigo Montoya of “A Princess Bride”

How was your experience? Well, it was okay but the overall customer service wasn’t that flash. The, ah, experience, was a bit lumpy. New car? Yep, and I love the driving experience! Hey, how was that session today? Well, I liked their presentation, but experientially, I thought it was flat. By the way, I totes loved Spain last year. Now, that was an experience! And did you buy any more of those gadgets? Yep, but I nearly didn’t. The payment experience was horrible!

Ever notice that the word “experience” is everywhere?

Especially in customer operations: marketing, sales, service, and commerce…

The pros and cons of customer survey software

Someone placing their finger on a “how was your day” rating sign
Someone placing their finger on a “how was your day” rating sign
Image: Unsplash/Canva

In my recent travels, I have been asked a lot about the role of survey tools within customer experience and marketing programs. And I get why. But there’s a bit to the answer, so this post covers the angles. Now I can save some time and just point them here!

The rise of survey companies in the digital era has significantly accelerated in the last few years. From IPO raises to mergers and acquisitions, there is a lot of chatter. And all of it on the back of increasing demand for customer data, and better yet, insight.

Ah yes, insight.

A brand’s remedy to the dumb things we say about privacy

Demonstrators protest changing privacy policies in Vienna. (Ronald Zak/DAPD/AP)

Not long ago, I was speaking at an event on the subject of experience economics and called for more bold use of data to make the customer experience more personal, and more human. I used a retail example, exploring a model for how we might greet people in-store, using information that we already know about them. Afterward, someone said to me:

“Oh, but what a breach of privacy!”

“Which part of our privacy?” I replied.

They didn’t know what I meant, and that’s the problem.

The Problem

Now, it goes without saying that corporate and social espionage is at the end of…

The liberating truth that there is no normal in a post-COVID world.

Credit: Nadia Hafid

In my family history, there is a sad and ironic tale. Someone of my bloodline I am told was the first-ever person to be run over by a car in New Zealand. Not the kind of “first-ever” that one might aspire to, but there you go.

And for some bizarre reason, I don’t even know if they lived or died.

How it works, and why it matters more than ever before

Pairs of white tennis shoes in a row, with a pair of bright red high tops standing out in the middle.
Pairs of white tennis shoes in a row, with a pair of bright red high tops standing out in the middle.

Ever been called out to by someone on the other side of the street? Steve! Steve! Hey Steve. Yeah… Steve? Can you hear m…

My name is Aarron.

Now, quite obviously, Steve must be very good looking.

And I’m sure he is a cool guy, but I genuinely don’t care if he is, or if he’s not. All I know is that I’m not him, and therefore not remotely interested in a conversation with someone who thinks that I am.

But you know what, if they call out my name, well then. I’ll holla back.

Our names are so very…

A case study of the brand paradox phenomenon

As a matter of policy, I typically stay away from anything political. That, and hygiene products (kidding). And contrary to the headline, I’m not about to break that policy, because this isn’t really about Trump. Not really.

Still, I’ll start by saying that this article may be easier to consume, for my non-American readers.

This is because we, the rest of the world I mean, aren’t caught up in the division that grips the U.S. right now, which is a distinct advantage if you’re going to use Trump as a case study. Which I am.

As I write this, it’s…

Aarron Spinley

I BEG TO DIFFER! Growth & brand theory from a top 10 global thought leader (Thinkers360). SPINLEY.CO

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