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How a Traffic Ticket Cost $2 Million Dollars (And Why You Should Be Happy About That!)

The past 2 years have been incredibly fulfilling: I got married, have a baby on the way, and have been working with an incredible group of people developing software for the world’s best clients. I feel incredibly blessed.

In this post, we’re going to focus on the work aspect (not getting married or having a child, but I’m open to any and all husbanding and parenting advice!), and give you a behind-the-scenes glimpse of what we’ve been up to and why we’re excited to share it with you.

It all started with a traffic ticket …

The 2 Million Dollar Traffic Ticket

February 2010. I’m sitting in the world’s foremost idea incubator: Traffic Court.

Awaiting to appear before a judge for a ticket (infraction: speaking with Joe Manos on my cell phone … it’s against the law here in California!), I started doodling what became one of the key building blocks for our new Marketing Platform. Here’s the doodle …

The sketch

I know it doesn’t look like much, but these sketches led to an idea we believe reduces complexity and provides a compelling framework for how you think about, launch, and manage multi-channel campaigns.

Within a few days of sitting in court, we made the decision to invest a few million in development.

But why? While we’re well known for Personalized URLs (PURLs), the opportunity for today’s marketer extends much further; as you know, now there’s SMS, Twitter, Facebook, and so much more. PURLs are just one tactic in an increasingly complex, sophisticated, and dizzying array of options.

That’s why we’ve created three things we’re excited about:

  • The Marketing Studio: a visual environment (some Users are calling it an integrated development environment) for creating multi-channel, multi-touch campaigns;
  • The Marketing Engine: a gnarly beast that powers everything; and
  • The Marketing Language: an XML-based method for describing an entire marketing workflow, useful for integration and more.

I’ll tell you a bit more about each.

The Marketing Studio: The Visual Design Environment
The Marketing Studio is a slick drag-and-drop interface for visually creating multi-touch, multi-channel workflows. It’s what you use to plan, architect, and configure your cross-media campaigns. You can:

  • orchestrate all sorts of offline-and-online media like direct mail, email, and social media, along with microsites and landing pages — all in an easy drag-n-drop environment, requiring no technical skills;
  • leverage event-driven triggers to create marketing sequences (some people call them drip-and-nurture sequences), using any combination of media; and
  • analyze campaign performance using Visual Reporting and Analytics, providing real-time insight in to campaign performance.

Our beta Users are excited about the fact that they can use the environment to brainstorm and design a campaign workflow as they’re sitting with a Client. Here’s a short video that gives you a sense of what I’m talking about.

By the way: All campaign activity is supported by a powerful contact repository that progressively captures behavioral information, allowing personalization and targeting in future communication.

Here’s a snapshot of what it looks like to create a workflow (this happens to be for a microsite).  Click to see more clearly:

The Marketing Engine
The Engine is seriously cool.  It’s the part of the system that executes your cross-media campaign, and has lots of horsepower.

The Engine:

  • ingests an open architecture language (MAML) that describes an entire multi-channel, multi-touch marketing campaigns (more on that below);
  • has APIs for creating, managing, and reporting campaign activity; and
  • can be customized using Extension Modules.

Essentially, when you use the Marketing Studio to create a marketing campaign, everything you do is captured within a MAML file, which is fed to the Engine for execution.  Other applications can also feed MAML to the Engine.  Let’s look at this aspect a bit more closely.

The Marketing Language: MAML
Sure, its a funny word (say “mammal” out loud a few times …), but what’s it all about?

MAML is based on a special form of Extensible Markup Language (XML), and provides a way to describe an entire marketing workflow. When you use the Marketing Studio, the output of your work is MAML. This means that within a MAML document, each aspect of the marketing workflow is articulated, including various forms of media like email, SMS, and landing pages, as well as the content and personalization required by each element.

Think of it as a smart, self-described document that holds not only the marketing content, but also instructions for how campaign respondents interact with each element.

MAML expands workflow integration beyond the pressroom and into the enterprise itself. For example, MAML-enabled systems can interface with other systems such as print workflow management, CRM software, and web-to-print.

Here’s a snapshot that shows that what you design in the Studio is also expressed in XML:

We’re Just Getting Started . . .
I’m so thankful for that cell phone ticket 2 years ago. Hopefully, you’ll soon feel the same way.

Whether you need workflow freedom in designing multi-touch, multi-media campaigns using different media (watch this video to get an idea of what I’m talking about: bit.ly/MFIplatform), or if you’re a more technical User looking to integrate your web-2-print and cross-media solution for a higher degree of automation, we feel there’s something for you.

Here’s what we’d like from you: If you want to be on our beta list, leave a comment below. If something said here is unclear, leave a comment so we can clarify.  We’re still working through the best way to communicate about this platform, so your input is very helpful.

Here’s to traffic tickets — maybe a little less expensive next time!

Posted by: David Rosendahl David Rosendahl in MindFireInc Blog
Comments ( 16 ) | TrackBacks

16 Responses to “How a Traffic Ticket Cost $2 Million Dollars (And Why You Should Be Happy About That!)”

  1. Richard Helmey March 13, 2012 at 9:09 am #

    We are a new user, but would be happy to be involved with a beta test of the system…if you are looking for new user input!

  2. Steve March 13, 2012 at 9:30 am #

    Dave – good stuff!

  3. Maigen Sawyer March 13, 2012 at 9:51 am #

    Great read! A couple of questions:

    1. Understanding that we can integrate this tool into other useful softwares such as a CRM environment, I could see this quickly becoming a conversation starter even before a sales rep communicates with a potential customer. In the world of printing, if we were able to send over a screen shot demonstrating our understanding of true marketing campaigns by using the Marketing Studio interface to build a quick storyboard, we may be able to get into doors much quicker.

    Imagine if a sales rep or campaign manager went into their integrated CRM/Market Studio environment and set up a quick storyboard for a quarterly campaign to a client they’ve never done business with. I would like to think we would look rather credible right out of the gate, especially if that campaign was mixed media – SMS, eBlasts, Direct Mail, etc. Would it be possible to create a button within the interface we can click to screen capture a quick story board we’ve generated that we’d like to send out via email? This would be incredible for our now merged company (Seebridge Media) as we are capable of doing all types of media instead of just print.

    2. MAML sounds incredible but I don’t quite know how I can make it work for me, the campaign manager, who understands cosmetic HTML + CSS, and very basic java. I could be completely off, but this sounds more like something programmers would find useful?

    3. Would it be possible for you to ever think about somehow partnering with MailChimp? I absolutely love their eBlast client. They are full of resources but they are only one-dimensional.

    • David Rosendahl March 14, 2012 at 8:58 am #

      Maigen, great thoughts! In the same order …

      1) Yes, we’re hearing this from others, it seems to resonate. Yes, there is a way to capture/print to PDF the workflow so you can do as you stated.

      2) MAML is well-suited for those looking to do integration, and yes, is for a programming team.

      3) We have considered them as a “backbone” email vendor, and I know they’re still on the table. Gotta love the Chimp :)

      -dr-

  4. Maigen Sawyer March 13, 2012 at 9:55 am #

    Oh one last and most important thing! I’ve been pushed onto many different Content Management Systems for basic Mobile Landing Page creation and have found each and every one of them frustrating, limiting, and just not “quite right” for my need to use them. Do you have any intentions to create easy ways to me to have full customization to shell out mobile optimized web pages or landing pages for a microsite? I’m not interested in a site that looks decent on a mobile device. I’m interested to learn how to create true mobile optimized pages. It is essential to our future in marketing.

    • David Rosendahl March 14, 2012 at 10:09 am #

      Yes, we talk about this often. And as you now know, we do offer training on how to mobile optimize a microsite/landing page :)

  5. Craig Hath March 13, 2012 at 2:55 pm #

    Dave,
    Thanks for the overview and more background which lead up to the decision to create the new product. As a beta tester, our team is finding the studio to be intuitve and flexible. We’re excited about the possibilites and what this can help us do for our customers. Keep up the fantastic work.

    Cheers, and don’t be afraid to ask for parenting advise. We’ve got plenty.

  6. Ron Marcus March 13, 2012 at 3:45 pm #

    Very entertaining and informative post Dave. This looks like a truly slick and powerful solution. We are kicking the tires here (and viewing your how-to videos) and are planning the campaigns we’ll use to test the system and integrating it with our web-to-print capability.

    Thanks a lot and looking forward to more,
    Ron Marcus
    Marketing Cheerleader
    ZUZA | Marketing Asset Management
    http://zuzamam.com

  7. Mark Dixon March 13, 2012 at 3:50 pm #

    Hi

    Very interesting!!
    Yes for beta testing

    Thanks

  8. Rod Key March 13, 2012 at 9:40 pm #

    Great post Dave. I’ve had many a traffic ticket, usually at 2am and then up all night mapping things out. To me this is where all great ideas start, keep up the great work. If it was easy everyone would be doing it.

    Appreciate the hard work you and your team have spent to make companies like ours successful.

    Don’t slow down…

  9. Mike S. March 14, 2012 at 6:14 am #

    Dave, this all sounds great. Multi-channel marketing is moving very quickly in many directions. I’m looking forward to reviewing this more in depth to see how this might work for our business.

    At our company, we’re not programmers, so this all depends on ease of use, functionality, and extensive reporting capabilities.

  10. Joe Johnson March 14, 2012 at 6:17 am #

    Wow, very exciting. Can’t wait to start. Yes, for sure. Talk to you soon.

    Joe

  11. Mark Angus March 14, 2012 at 8:49 am #

    Hi Dave

    This is really great stuff! I have just been on a Social Media/CRM Strategy Course and I am coming to New York next week for Predictive Analytics training. I can see that the Marketing Studio, Engine and Language will really help us with applying some of what we are learning, as well as in the deployment of multiple/integrated digital campaigns. What a great way to plan and demonstrate to clients campaign workflows!

    We would definitely like to be on the beta list – our creative & technical team would love to try out the Engine and MAML!

    Just one question: I see that Facebook and Twitter are included – can it be extended to other Social Media channels/platforms?

    Many Thanks!
    Mark Angus
    Innoviate One-2-One
    South Africa

    • David Rosendahl March 14, 2012 at 10:12 am #

      Hey Mark! Great to hear from you. Yes, one of the strengths of the platform is the ability to extend to other channels/media. Which other media are you using in South Africa?

      I’m going to post a link to apply for beta shortly. Would love to have your participation!

  12. David Rosendahl March 14, 2012 at 10:13 am #

    Folks, for those of you who are interested, here’s the link to apply for beta: http://register.m.fxt.me/beta/

    Thanks!