Reaching you online audience: The curious case of E-850

I can almost hear you think: What the hell is E-850???  And why is it a curious case?? I will answer those questions in a minute.

For now, imagine yourself working for a company where you have to transform raw materials into unfinished products, day in day out. These products often travel down the value chain three or four steps before they reach the End User. A lot of people are unfamiliar with your products and your brands and are unaware that it is in fact, your company that is responsible for the unique values of many products they use every day. Then, one day, you get a request from one of the business managers of your company, (because he heard about Crowd Sourcing and Open Innovation) to set up a project that uses online tools that will help him finalize the development of a new product. What would you do? I asked myself this question and came up with the solution below.

In this post I would like to share some recent experiences and learnings on the topics of Crowd Sourcing, Online Collaboration and Open Innovation which I gained while developing this case.

The Curious Case of E-850

DSM Neoresins is a company that is part of Royal DSM and produces world class resins. Resins are half fabricates being used in end products like paint, glue, etc… If this already sounds boring to you, imagine that you get a request from this company to assist in developing an online crowd sourcing case for a product called ‘E-850’, that is a pretty big challenge! Fortunately, the story about this product is very interesting and I found out that it does not matter what kind of product you are talking about. It all depends on the way you tell it to your audience.

In the online environment it is essential to gain the attention of your reader and make sure that he continues reading till he at least fully comprehends the content of the story. We needed help in order to finish the E-850 product, so in our case this meant that we wanted the reader to understand the product and our problem. The reader than had to decide ‘I know a potential solution to this problem’ and respond, or ‘I know somebody that could help solve this problem’ and forward it. To accomplish this, I created a slideshow that had to tell a story that was interesting enough for a broad audience, but in the same time contained enough information for the technical readers to get excited about the challenge.

The result: almost three thousand people have read the case! We have found the desired solution and made some sales of other products along the way because people got to learn about the company. And besides that, we gained a lot more attention to our brand in a world where it did not exist. However, we also learned that using tools and channels in the way we did (in the presentation we used a lot of visuals, no bullet points, only ten slides max and spread the word via online channels) only reaches a limited audience. There is a huge group, especially in the scientific environment that loves data, pie charts and stories told in bullet point presentations. So perhaps we reached this audience but we did not accomplish to tell them our complete story, because of the simple fact that their brain responds to different triggers than for example marketeers. We took these learnings by heart while preparing our next online crowd sourcing case and this time we hope to reach a broader audience and tap into a bigger potential crowd. You can expect to see it online somewhere in the coming weeks! Of course you will find it here on stevenzwerink.nl!

Transparency and Trust, this is me!

In this new online world where everybody can see almost everything from anyone, words like Authenticity, Transparency and Trust are frequently heard. A new challenge lies ahead of us. Because is there room for (a little) dishonesty, the occasional lie for your own good or simply changing your opinion on a subject? Just like me you probably have created a professional page on Linkedin where your profile states all your professional accomplishments, books you have read and groups you have joined. It probably also shows a nice picture of you in your suit, your hair done and a great smile. However, at the same time you are also tagged on Facebook by a friend on a picture where you had a couple of wines / beers and you most certainly do not look as good as you do on your LinkedIn page. And, to make matters worse, there is a big chance, both results will pop up in Google when a recruiter is searching for your name. This means your online profile is not limited to only one platform, everything you do online will leave its marks, so the question is: How authentic are you and are you aware that everything you do will be publicly available?

I have been talking about this topic for quite some time now. I was showing people that authenticity always was very important but that this importance will increase rapidly in the future. You are who you are and this is becoming more and more public every day. I decided that is time to take practicing what I preach to the next level.

At my company we have an annual performance review that will show how you are valued by your boss and your colleagues. Since my work as an Internal Marketing Consultant encompasses working with a lot of different people throughout DSM they were asked their opinion about me as a person and as a consultant. Since the world is becoming as transparent as can be, I decided that I will publish the outcomes of this review here. I present to you ‘My official performance review’

 

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My Strengths

– Steven is different;

– Steven has an excellent customer and external focus ; he knows how to work with people, build relations and networks and is entrepreneurial in his thinking and behaviour ;  Very good communicator, “emotional intelligence” is a strength, can adapt to different personalities and styles well;

– He is open, accessible, engaged and creates instant partnership. He is transparent of his role, strengths and weakness;

– Steven combines passion and enthusiasm with no-nonsense and he is able to create to very positive and energetic working environment for others (including myself);

– He can create an environment in which others feel and are held accountable to meet critical objectives but he can adapt quickly to the changing market place and business climate;

– Steven is creative and innovative and constantly looking for ways to improve;  in this respect he is taking initiative to create new opportunities for existing products/ services;

– He is able to champion breakthrough ideas and initiatives and investing in new ideas and ways of working.  He combines this by ensuring that own words and actions are consistent –  he “Walks the talk” so to say and has demonstrated that several times this year;

– Steven did grow this year in his role as facilitator; he used the tools and techniques available and started just doing it.  By learning and doing he did grow his facilitation skills.

 

Development areas

– Although Steven can very easily build rapport/ partnership with others he does this with energy, passion  and enthusiasm; for further growth he can develop on creating an environment where different working styles are accepted and effective . Giving equal consideration to the ideas of people at all levels;

– Steven tends to disengage when he feels value cannot be added or when he strongly disagrees with a topic ; he can develop further on acting as an active team player even when own interest is fulfilled (or not) and managing own behavior in a way that creates trust;

– Steven tends to rush and to cope with a lot of different projects / topics which has its toll on quality business time. In this respect he can find (or channel) piece of mind whilst combining this with his enthusiasm and passion;

– Steven can develop delivering quality and reliably against goals, persists in overcoming obstacles and making things happen with can-do mentality;

– Steven can build further on conceptualising his innovative approaches, by taking new ways of working out of the piloting phase and build programs;

– Steven feels sometimes uncomfortable when it comes to technical content. Stepping out of his comfort zone and combine his strengths together with content knowledge will be crucial for making even more impact. We can look for an assignment that goes beyond facilitation of planning and crosses over to the doing…some time in the trenches, so to speak. In addition he can develop his business acumen and – without letting go of his entrepreneurial mindset- provide support to business related topics;

– Steven is looking for recognition by personal branding; in this process he can develop awareness and rapport with others to not override on team efforts and branding;

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So this is me according to my respected colleagues at DSM who I thank for their honesty and helping me to grow both as a person and a professional (should this distinction still be made?). I would like to ask you to tell me what you think or feel by reading this. If you know me, let me know if you agree or disagree, feel free to add points or change them if you feel different.

GrooveShark

Finally there is an online platform where you can find all the music you like without going through the trouble of downloading besides Last.FM. GrooveShark is a simple to use website where you can search artists, albums, playlists and even your friends. I tried to find various songs that popped in my mind and not one of them was not there, from hardstyle to classical music and from punkrock to top 40, everything is there! You even have the possibility to add songs to your favorite list if you want to save them. There is no subscription fee if you want to use this service, although if you want to get rid of adds or save over 5000 songs to your favorites you have to become a VIP member for $30 per year or $3 per month (something I have not found the need for).

Enjoy the music!

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