The Magic of The Valley

I call it the Disneyland tour – the pilgrimage made by brands to Silicon Valley. An opportunity to see the sights and experience all that makes it “The Happiest Place on Earth,” at least as far as technology and innovation are concerned. I’ve been making trips like this for more than a decade, and every time I walk away with new ideas. Over time, you also walk away with a reminder of the big ideas and brilliant minds behind the companies that succeed (and even the ones that fail). I recently completed one of these journeys, and as part of my trip I captured 10 ideas that show the power of the “Magic Kingdom.”

1. Be Selective

While visiting Andreessen Horowitz, a fantastic stat was shared that speaks to the necessary decision-making approach. Every year, roughly 4,000 start-ups will receive VC. Of those companies, 15 will deliver 90 percent of the profits returned. That’s a great lesson in how brands can think about investing. Brands have a right to be selective, which can be an advantage if used correctly.

2. Look for Unicorns

In investing circles, a unicorn is a company valued at $1 billion or more. I’ve always found that another kind of billion is equally important for brands. To enjoy the benefits of research, brands need to find companies that have a billion actions taking place on the platform. Until then they are interesting, and some might even be worthy of testing, but rarely can you feel confident they have staying power.

3. The Power of Association

Brands want to be near other great brands. Consumers react differently when they see you near a brand such as Apple. The association impact is real. People go to The Valley to learn from this influential set of companies, and the same holds true for partnerships as well as select advertising deals.

4. Where Is Your Next New Customer, Today?

Some platforms are great for connecting with today’s customer, while others pose the opportunity for the next customer. Be it because of age or ethnicity, the next investment to make in advertising may be with a platform that was not even on your radar a year ago.

5. Mobile by Design

Two years ago, it was social by design. Even now, Facebook has begun to tout people-first. But the truth remains – we are really in a mobile-first world. Every opportunity must include, if not begin with, a strong mobile connection to consumer opportunity.

6. Moments to Memories and Back Again

Many companies sell the idea of brands being a part of moments. The Zero Moment of Truth, or moments that matter, are just a couple of the adopted slogans from Valley companies. When it comes to moments, the key is being a part of turning a moment into a memory, or allowing a memory to push a future moment.

7. Consumers’ Appetite for Video Is Insatiable

At every single stop, the conversations you have are guaranteed to include two key elements: mobile and video. Oftentimes, the two are intertwined. There are no signs of slowing in video consumption, and everyone is investing in every size and shape of content, giving brands the opportunity to engage as they see fit.

8. Value the Data

Every test and every program should deliver something beyond results. It should give new insights into a brand’s audience and produce data not previously available. Every partner is different and the deals made should not only value the immediate return, but also the data access and what that can do in the future.

9. Be Authentic

When you spend time with most of the companies, you get a strong sense of who they are and why they are successful. This is a lesson in brand authenticity. In the platforms, in the creative, in the execution. Be authentic to the brand.

10. Be Ready to Adapt

Different choices require different skills. Skills in your people, in your partners, and in your business. Do you know what skills your own organization has? Can you properly assess which partners best suit your strengths or complement your weaknesses as an organization in order to deliver the best program to engage consumers?

There’s a reason people go back to Disney parks. The experience is rarely the same, they want to share it with the next generation, and they leave wanting more. The Valley has many of these same factors and when you go, if you are open, you can walk away with your own reasons to do more and do it better in your own organization. And that’s the magic inside the experience, each and every time.

Image via Shutterstock.

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