Drew and I have been “delighted” by how well the transition has been going working with Mel Carson and Ashley Seffernick on our plan to integrate some parts of the Prime 8 Consulting and Delightful businesses and work together to ensure the very best results and experience for our clients and our people.
Today, we are thrilled to announce that Alex Mercer will be joining Delightful as Global Strategy Director.
Alex has a rich history of success in marketing and communications. More than a decade ago she managed some of Microsoft’s communications portfolios in global PR, public sector, and citizenship and also spent time at Gates Ventures, working on the Giving Pledge initiative.
Back in New Zealand, she launched an investment organization focused on funding women founders of start-ups and, more recently, global marketing and communications roles at Xero and Datacom, where she will continue to support their brand strategy.
Harnessing her global experience coupled with a superpower for building excellent teams and utilizing the latest technologies and trends, we have asked Alex to work with Mel, Drew, and myself to build a global plan that takes the successful Delightful Communications blueprint and scales it up and out to the world.
As the months have passed since we acquired Delightful, we have seen steady growth both in terms of client asks across our Integrated Marketing, Executive Communications, and Creative Studios service areas, and hiring new team members to join the company and reap the rewards of learning and growing in a business at the cutting edge of marketing and communications.
As I said back in February, our goal is to grow Delightful’s marketing and communications services so more brands and leaders across industries can benefit from their creativity, tenacity, and realize even greater results.
In a fast-moving business environment dominated by AI and a need for greater efficiency AND creativity, Alex’s appointment is just the catalyst our business needs to help take Delightful through to the next (global) stage and help us realize that goal.
Please join us in welcoming Alex to Delightful Communications.
– Nicolette Sharp / Owner at Delightful Communications / CEO at Prime 8 Consulting
Metaverse—the biggest opportunity for modern business since the creation of the internet or a cartoony wasteland? Technology to transform the enterprise or just avatars with no legs? There are vocal proponents and naysayers. But a steady stream of data shows it’s real, it’s here, and effective thought leadership can be an influential force for business.
According to a report from the World Economic Forum, 71% of executives say the metaverse will be good for business and 42% see it as transformational. There are big tech players like Meta, Microsoft, Google, and Intel. But corporations like Disney, Macdonald’s, Warner Brothers, and Walmart are also pursuing metaverse technology patents. Consulting partners like Accenture aggressively guide global clients through metaverse strategies. And, according to McKinsey, consumers picture themselves in the next five years shopping, seeing their doctor, attending a live event, and even going on dates. Corporate marketing is all over the messaging and branding at the enterprise level.
We think you should consider the possibilities of executive thought leadership in the metaverse. B2B decision-makers look to executives as influential resources for the latest thinking in an industry (71%) and future trends (68%). Executive thought leadership presence improves brand perception (93%) and directly increases revenue (91%). The metaverse presents a tantalizing opportunity to build and expand a leadership brand. However, before you dive in, we should take a more pragmatic look beyond the hype and mythology.
Where is “there”?
There are two distinct metaverse models: consumer and enterprise. The consumer metaverse is the digital place where people—as digital avatars—shop, trade, travel, and interact with one another. It’s a fully immersive VR-driven experience. For example, in the Decentraland Marketplace, visitors can buy and sell land. High-end fashion lovers go to the Gucci Vault to dress their avatars. Macdonald’s is working on a virtual storefront with home food delivery.
The enterprise metaverse embraces technology and the power of the cloud to deliver enhanced consumer experiences, flexible and traceable supply chains, data-driven business decisions, and the full promise of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Think manufacturing and medicine.
Do you have to choose one or the other?
It’s an interesting question. The answer is, “It depends.” What’s the industry? What’s the corporate strategy? Are you well-versed in the power of digital twins to harden global supply chains? More comfortable discussing the impact of nested NFTS? Or do you sit at the intersection of AI, machine learning, and ethics? Who follows you now and who do you want to reach in the future? What are your goals?
Public perception and research raise troubling questions about the impacts of life in the metaverse. What happens to privacy when increasingly more data is collected? Can we ensure equal access to connectivity and hardware? How do kids identify “stranger danger” in a virtual world? What constitutes a crime in the metaverse? When violence, racism, and misogyny become pervasive visuals, what happens? Is it the ultimate platform for misinformation?
What’s your strategy?
“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” Sun Tzu
Effective thought leadership in the metaverse requires a strategy. Done well, it shows you are a trusted advisor and are on top of current and future trends. It demonstrates you are someone who has something to say. You are the person people turn to when they want to explore relevant trends, learn more about a topic, and hear about companies who have successfully made a jump into a new space. Without a strategy, thought leadership shuffles along with random stops along the way. What’s the point of following someone who doesn’t really know where they are going?
We think the opportunities for relevant and influential thought leaders in the metaverse are there. However, it is increasingly clear it requires a well-thought-through strategy and plan of action.
When and where to jump in
Executives with an online presence can immediately start sharing perspectives on how the #metaverse shapes their industry. Mobile World Congress in Barcelona is a hotbed of technology topics and announcements around immersive technology and 5G. Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in June promises to be a hub for ideas with the first Metaverse Lion award for immersive experiences that push the boundaries of technology. There is a gold mine of significant and current content to share with followers.
Ready for a bigger step? Develop your avatar. Mesh avatars for Microsoft Teams (currently in preview) make avatars a common and accepted presence in business meetings. New employees at companies like Accenture now send their avatars to onboarding sessions. Want to boost your presence and credibility? Send your avatar to speaking engagements and industry conferences.
Note that we said “develop” your avatar. As the digital embodiment of how executives present themselves, creating an avatar within corporate branding guidelines may be a balancing act.
Start with a strong foundation
Your online presence and thought leadership strategy start with a clear personal brand—your leadership brand. Delightful Communications have been helping executives hone their brands with our executive communications services for over 10 years. We help develop an authentic voice with clear messaging pillars based on your vision, missions, and goals.
We do a thorough analysis and identify gaps. Our specialists lay out a clear strategic and tactical plan that prioritizes moments and platforms for connecting with your online community. It’s a marriage of art and science, because as Winston Churchill said, “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.”
As dawn breaks at the start of a second decade in Delightful’s history, Ashley and I have decided it is time to pass the helm of our business to new owners.
Starting from humble beginnings working out of Seattle coffee shops back in 2012, we have since built a 35-person organization with global reach. We help some of the world’s biggest technology brands and their leaders be more discoverable, shareable, and memorable.
After 10 years of adventures (tripling in size since March 2020), we started to think deeply about what was next for us and our business.
We have a successful formula helping our clients with integrated marketing, executive communications, and content creation, and the constant asks for more capacity meant we should think about scaling purposefully and sustainably.
As a people-first business driven by our Delightful principles, we also wanted to ensure our amazing team has plenty of room for learning and growth, as well as the stability provided by a larger business infrastructure.
Recognizing our own limitations, we started to seek advice on how to take our business to the next level and through pure serendipity were introduced to Drew and Nicolette Sharp, Co-Founders of Prime 8 Consulting.
Prime 8 is a Bellevue-based consulting firm that has 150 consultants working in various business roles across clients like Microsoft, Amazon, T-Mobile, and others. Over the past few years, our team has worked with many of their employees, partnering on successful projects for our mutual customers.
When we came together to discuss a potential union, it was evident their management team had the experience, drive, and passion to help integrate our services into Prime 8’s portfolio and provide our employees with a continuous passage of career opportunities.
After careful consideration, Ashley and I decided to sell Delightful and believe this is the best way forward for the company, our clients, and our employees.
Drew and Nicolette are keeping the Delightful brand, and Ashley and I are staying on for the foreseeable future to help with the integration. There is much work to do both on the client side and in assimilating our operational infrastructures to create the powerhouse we believe is possible.
There are a thousand stories we could share about our voyage to this time and place, but one conversation Ashley and I had stands out at this moment.
It was about the summer of 2017, and we’d just signed a big contract to help Microsoft with the IoT in Action global event series for which we won an award. We made a pact that our work with Delightful had to be more than just for the paycheck. We wanted to grow something with people at its core who would be part of a legacy we could all be proud of.
As we look across our team, many of whom have been with us for several years, we are so proud of the work they have done for the company, their clients, and themselves, and we are confident that as Drew and Nicolette take Delightful’s helm and chart a new course, they will continue to learn and grow.
There are so many people we need to thank for help and advice along the way and we will reach out over the coming weeks in appreciation.
For right now, though, it’s business as usual. We have live workstreams and trailblazing projects to maintain and grow, all while helping our clients and their leaders be even more discoverable, shareable, and memorable.
Mel Carson – Founder & CEO – Delightful Communications
Ashley Seffernick – Director of Operations – Delightful Communications
Taxes. Jury duty. Changing the batteries in the smoke alarm. All things you have to do. Does developing and keeping a social media presence fall in the same bucket for you? Or, it’s just “not your thing?”
Yes, it requires time. Yes, it takes brain space. But there is quantifiable value—both personal and professional—for executives who commit to a well-developed and executed social platform strategy.
Your presence matters—a lot
The days of thinking your social media activity doesn’t directly impact your business are long gone. Research shows that thinking went out with the flip phone. A 2022 Harris Poll reports your social presence improves relationships with clients and prospects (93%), improves brand perception (93%), and directly increases revenue (91%).
The 2021 Edelman and LinkedIn thought leadership study points out that B2B decision-makers look to you as an influential resource for the latest thinking in your industry (71%) and future trends (68%). Your posts give you credibility that you understand their business challenges (63%).
Still not convinced? Let’s look at the fierce competition for talent. A 2022 Brunswick report found, by a four-to-one ratio, employees prefer to work for a CEO who uses social media compared to one who does not. Nine out of ten employees say having a leader who communicates directly and transparently via social media is a factor for staying with an employer. As a research tool, 82% of potential employees use social media to scrutinize a CEO as part of their company research.
Wielding your personal brand
Your online presence starts with a clear personal brand—or as we like to say, your leadership brand. Your brand is more than your resume. It encapsulates your purpose, your aspirations, your deeply held leadership values. It looks at the ideas that get you up every morning and why you bring your best self to work. It establishes your credibility and amplifies your leadership impact. It makes you relatable–approachable.
Done well, it shows you are a trusted advisor and are on top of current and future trends. It demonstrates you are someone who has something to say.
How do you break through the noise?
Unfortunately, there are a lot of executives who have something to say. A hefty number of respondents in the Edelman/LinkedIn study (71%) said that less than 50% of the thought leadership they consume gives them valuable insights. Harris poll respondents were a bit more pointed in their assessment of the noise: 78% of respondents agree that organizations check the box on thought leadership but DO NOT push the envelope on thought leadership.
Ouch. Just showing up is not enough.
Your online presence is a business strategy so put together the best team to help you push the envelope. Delightful Communications have been helping executives hone their brands with our executive communications services for over 10 years. We help develop an authentic voice with clear messaging pillars based on your vision, missions, and goals.
We do a thorough analysis and identify gaps. We lay out a clear strategic and tactical plan that prioritizes moments and platforms for connecting with your online community. We look for synergies with other executives that allow for greater amplification of voice and leadership.
Science needs to validate the art of creating an effective brand. Are you increasing followers? What topics generate comments? Short posts, long-form content, videos, personal stories, technology solutions, acknowledging colleagues’ milestones? What engages your network? The data is there to show what’s working and what’s not.
It’s quantifiable and actionable.
Sophisticated—some say demented—algorithms surface or sink social posts. Our strategists understand the algorithms. We continually monitor trends which in turn inform tactics. This goes deeper than determining the best time to post and the optimum number of hashtags. It’s about knowing how to make your voice stand out when every other executive in the organization is sharing the same corporate earnings report. It’s about understanding the power of employees amplifying your messages and going a step further by providing appropriate ways to post. It’s about knowing what to do if an executive goes off script and the impact (and amplification) isn’t what they expected.
I have outlined the entry below, but really this post is a shout-out to our incredible team who have worked so hard on this project:
Bianca Hu and Amber Martin for guidance and strategic oversight
Wayne Pua for splendid all-up leadership of the program
Guillermo Garcia for meticulous research and analytics
Hunter Hill for creative video and design materials
Eric Fetters-Walp for engaging copywriting
Chelsea Slocum for writing the winning award entry
Huge thanks too to Cuong Pham from Microsoft for believing in our team and the program and for being such a delightful client and partner on this project!
The Winning Entry – Public
Microsoft Excel has been a mainstay in the business application world since 1987, and its engineers are releasing new product features, hacks, and innovative ways to use Excel all the time. Delightful Communications was asked to position Excel as a fun, productive solution while reaching new, relevant audiences and driving amplified awareness across social media platforms. We did this by building an Excel Creator community of global experts who were already leveraging Excel as a tentpole in their own social strategy. These individuals were releasing content about Excel and making it incredibly easy to digest and engaging for a young, global audience, and we wanted to help them take it to the next level. To do this, we developed a symbiotic relationship with Excel Creators that promoted innovative ideas, highlighted product features, and helped them continue to create that emotional response that Excel can be fun. To date, we are working with 31 Excel Creators representing 16 countries and 6 languages. Excel Creators work with us to hear information live that’s fresh and relevant, and to be on the cutting edge. Reciprocally, we have an opportunity to highlight key features that are targeted based on what Microsoft wants people to know about. The end result is amazing, original user-generated content published by a robust community of global Excel Creators that are invested in learning about the latest Excel product innovations and driving awareness throughout their own user bases
Well done to all the award winners and those nominated. We thought the fine folks at The Drum did a great job with these awards and we look forward to sharing our great work with them next year.
Cheers, Mel Carson – Founder & CEO at Delightful Communications
We were thrilled to be shortlisted for our work across Microsoft helping various teams and priorities be more discoverable, shareable, and memorable through the influencer marketing and creator programs we have established over the years.
Microsoft recognized us (40 employees) and PWC (300K employees) as joint winners for the prize about which they said:
This award recognizes thought leaders who are driving next-generation concepts through discovery, Big Ideas, and innovative solutions – those who lead others to think deeper, push further, and embrace disruption.
The Microsoft events team did an awesome job on the virtual ceremony and we especially loved the suspense Mitra Azizirad created when handing out the award to TWO recipients.
Huge kudos to the cast of many Delightful employees who worked on the programs over the past year, and looking forward to doing more of the same in Microsoft’s next fiscal year FY23!
Onwards and upwards!
Mel Carson – Founder and CEO at Delightful Communications
When Delightful made the choice in March 2020 to shut our office doors and asked employees to work safely from home indefinitely because of the pandemic, we needed to rethink many ways in which we did business.
Crafting and reinforcing high-quality, custom B2B marketing messages—whether in words or via visuals—requires insight, experience, and that sometimes elusive quality called creativity.
We’re thrilled to announce the launch of our Creative Studios to enhance what we’re already doing for our clients: creating persuasive and detail-oriented text and eye-catching, innovative graphics and digital content in a variety of formats.
It’s just another way in which we’re striving to help your message stand out, connect, and endure.
When I started Delightful Communications back in 2012, one of the niche services we offered executives was called personal branding. At the time, there was a lot of talk about TRUST in business, and I felt strongly that big companies were missing the mark by not having their leaders more visible at a personal level, building trust and engagement through their own personal brands that also benefited the corporate brands they represented.
Monday March 8th marks International Women’s Day, a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women–as well as a call to action for accelerating gender parity. The day is celebrated differently around the nation and the world, but we at Delightful are using today to raise awareness and support our favorite women-owned businesses, organizations, as well as non-profits who provide crucial services to women and children.