Posts Tagged 'strategy'



preach to the converted

Marketers often over-think social media, but the basic stuff can sometimes be the most successful.

The approach is quite straightforward: find out what your audience likes, and then create (simple) content around that topic for people to share or engage with.

Here’s an example: I posted this very simple picture on eski last night, but look at the responses it received within just a few hours:

It’s similar to the approach used at rock concerts: the classic “Hello [City]! How you all feeling?” seems to work every time, even if it’s not very original.

So, if your audience loves something, just feed their love.

Preach to the converted.

just did it

You might have noticed that it’s been a bit quiet round here for the past few months.

That’s because I decided to take my own advice.

Around this time last year, I made a commitment that 2010 would be about less talk, more action.

I’ve stuck to that commitment, but after this prolonged silence, I thought I’d share some of what I’ve been up to.

The context

I spent the first few months of 2010 trying to encourage clients to make better use of social channels.

It was a tough challenge; while most of them seemed interested, none of them seemed ready to commit to anything.

Their main fear was that these ‘new channels’ were unproven.

None of them wanted to be the first to take the plunge, so I was caught in a Catch-22: nothing could happen until someone changed the equation.

It soon dawned on me that I would have to be the first to do it – on my own brand, and with my own money.

So, exactly 5 months ago, I put a little experiment into action.

My ‘brand’ was my DJ alter ego, eski, and my simple objective was to share my mixes with as many people as possible.

It’s probably worth noting that, before I started this experiment, fewer than 100 people had ever listened to my mixes online.

That number looks very different today.

The Results

If you’d told me 5 months ago that I would achieve so much in such a short period of time, I probably wouldn’t have believed you.

I appreciate the irony of that.

Sure, I was less skeptical than my clients, but I didn’t realise just how powerful social channels could be.

But I now have tangible proof that they really do work – here are today’s ‘stats’ from eski’s facebook page:

Many of those 50,000 have found me thanks to this simple banner:

I’ve also promoted the page by posting on other related pages on Facebook, and through some basic twitter activity.

But aside from the numbers, what has this ‘little experiment’ taught me?

1. Time is your most valuable resource

I always knew time was the biggest ‘cost’ when it came to social media, but I was still surprised just how much time and effort it requires.

Sure, the media costs next to nothing, but the content needs significant commitment and dedication, and the surrounding conversations need constant fuel, even when the audience is passionate about the subject.

I spend an average of 10 hours a week creating content, and then another 15-20 hours interacting with people.

That’s the same number of hours as a full-time job.

2. Content is everything

People usually only do things when they see a personal benefit – even if that benefit is simply feeling good about themselves.

Again, no surprises there, but this experiment has shown me just how fickle audiences can be.

The only reason people ‘Like’ eski, and keep coming back to the page, is that they like the music.

If I don’t publish content for more than a few days, return visits drop very quickly.

3. Targeting is saving

The difference in cost-per-conversion between my targeted and un-targeted ads is about 5,000%.

No, that wasn’t a typo.

If hadn’t targeted my ads so carefully, I would have needed to invest more than $50,000 to achieve the same results.

Needless to say, I spent an awful lot less.

There’s no easy answer on how to do this – you’ve just got to spend time understanding your audience, what they like, and what they want.

But then, that’s true of any channel.

4. Just do it

It goes without saying that proof is considerably more persuasive than strategy and theory.

So, if you really believe something works, find a ‘brand’ of your own to prove it on.

And if you don’t have anything suitable to try your ideas on yet, create something!

If you think laterally about what you enjoy, you’ll probably find something relevant – a ‘DJ’ might not be the most obvious choice when thinking of brands, but ultimately it’s still the same thing.

You might do it with your own photography, cake decoration, or anything else – the trick is to choose something you care about.

The reason why doing it for yourself (i.e. your brand, your money) is so important is that your level of involvement changes everything.

I quickly realised just how much emotional involvement impacted my judgment; it coloured my decisions, and it brought totally new perspectives to my ‘marketing’ activities – especially when it came to how to spend my money.

But, as a result, I understand the whole process so much more clearly.

Now, I have a solid case study that shows how to grow something from nothing, but I can also talk objectively about the experience from both sides (i.e. client and advertiser).

I know what it feels like to take those first hesitant steps.

I know what the first tastes of success feel like.

I know what it’s like when you get things wrong.

I know how it feels when someone criticises you or your brand on your own page.

But most importantly, I’ve had lots of experience dealing with it all.

And that’s worth way more than any number of theory charts.

5. Stay true to your purpose

One of the starkest discoveries has been that numbers can be distracting and addictive.

Seeing a fan base grow every day can easily become an aim in itself.

But an overemphasis on numbers quickly destroys what you set out to do in the first place; growth for its own sake has no benefit, and will eventually destroy your soul (more on that here)

I started this experiment to learn how to use social media to build a brand, and that will remain the objective.

The fact that it’s been so successful simply means that I can now start experimenting in different ways.

6. Rinse and repeat

Like many other people I’ve talked to who’ve done something similar, I only wish I’d started sooner.

In fact, I’ve enjoyed building the eski page so much that I’ve already set up another 2 pages of my own (more about them another time), and I’ve also joined teams on 5 other related pages.

So, in the process, I’ve succeeded in another of my resolutions for 2010 as well (from here):

How about play rises instead of pay rises? More time to do the things that feed your souls, not just your bank balances (think Google’s 20%).

7. Never stop learning

Although I’m amazed at what has happened over the past 5 months, this is still just the start of the journey.

I’ve barely begun to optimise my activities, and I’ve only explored a fraction of the tools available to make things more interesting.

So, I’ve set an even more challenging objective for 2011.

But that story will have to wait until the next big milestone…

In the meantime, I hope you have a great festive period, and I wish you all the best for a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2011.

always learning, never failing

Learn from your mistakes and you’ll never fail.

Simple.

awesome or die

There’s been much talk recently about doing ‘awesome’ stuff.

Faris is a particularly strong exponent.

To many, it might seem hyperbolic – an excessive superlative used merely for effect.

But it’s not.

When it comes to advertising, we have two options: death or glory.

Which only leaves us with one appealing option.

Stuff that inspires people’s awe and wonder.

Sadly, a toned-down compromise that appeases a variety of different stakeholders simply isn’t going to work.

‘Good’ just isn’t good enough.

If you’re not looking at the work and thinking, “F**K yeah!”, chances are that the audience is simply going to pass it by.

In advertising terms, that’s death.

So don’t be scared of hyperbole.

Be scared of mediocrity and blandness.

Choose life.

Choose awesomeness.

refining vs revolution

David Armano shared a great presentation on his superb Logic + Emotion blog a few days back:

It offers plenty of food for thought – unsurprising considering that Armano “curated” it with fellow Edelman heavyweight Steve Rubel – but, ironically, the slide I found most inspiring probably wasn’t intended to be a cornerstone of the presentation:

[click to enlarge]

The source of the chart seems to be Edelman’s Trust Barometer, so I’m confident that a significant amount of quality research informed the findings.

However, instinctively, it feels like the number of times we need to repeat something depends on what we’re actually saying (or doing); some ‘messages’ will be easier to grasp than others, and some will be more easily forgotten, even if they are initially easily understood.

The whole conversation hinges on something we discussed a few months back: effective communication is about what the receiver understands, not what the sender says.

I shared the remainder of this post as a comment on David’s blog, but I’d like to extend the conversation here; it has such far-reaching implications that I believe it would benefit from as many minds as possible. That includes yours, so please do share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Social channels offer more effective ways for us to establish a shared understanding with our audiences, so they have the potential to revolutionise how we approach brand communications, not just refine the existing model.

For example, if people are struggling to grasp something, we have two options: either repeat the same message over and over again until it sticks, or keep refining the ‘message’ until people understand it.

The first option is the most practical approach in a purely broadcast communication model, because the costs involved in constantly measuring and refining a mass-media message are prohibitive. Within that model, brands often struggle to gauge whether people have understood their communications. Furthermore, by the time they find out, they’ve usually used up the entire budget and it’s infeasible to refine anything.

However, social channels offer brands a practical and cost-efficient way to share multiple messages, and determine whether people understand them – all in real-time. They allow us to communicate in a context that is more akin to face-to-face conversation: we can constantly refine and tweak our ‘message’ until we’re sure it has sunk in. More excitingly, such conversations can help us to identify whether our communications are even addressing our audience’s most important issues. When it comes to communication, what we hear is often more valuable than what we say.

In this second model, our communications challenge shifts from trying to identify an optimum number of repetitions of just one message, to identifying better ways of sharing what matters to people.

That may sound like stating the obvious, but I get the sense that many marketers still see social channels from a broadcast perspective – we are trying to adapt them to our existing model, rather than adapting the model to the take advantage of these new opportunities.

What do you think? Do social channels really allow brands to engage in dynamic conversation? Will repetition still play a key role in this new approach to brand communications? Share your thoughts here.

take your time

The Supremes gave us some indispensable social marketing advice way back in 1966:

You can’t hurry love,
No, you just have to wait;
Love don’t come easy,
It’s a game of give and take.

They were right.

Building a meaningful relationship takes time.

And sometimes, the other person isn’t ready for the kind of relationship you want.

Trust and affinity grow over multiple interactions, bit by bit.

But the rewards for patience are much greater than those of a conventional advertising one night stand.

Social marketing isn’t a race.

As the Italians say, “pian piano, si va lontano” – take things slowly and you’ll go much farther.

Image adapted from this BBC photo (please let me know if you own the rights to this photo and you’d prefer me not to use it)

one night brand

Too much marketing takes a ‘one-night stand’ approach to building relationships.

The brand does all it can to get people’s attention – to seduce and woo them – only to ignore them the morning after.

But most of us already know that such an approach rarely establishes meaningful, long-term relationships.

Sooner or later, no matter how clever the tagline, or how single-minded the big idea, successful brands need to progress from courtship to a relationship.

And that requires a different approach.

It needs regular, two-way communication.

It needs compromise and understanding.

It needs trust.

And all of those require something more than a flashy new campaign every few months.

Sure, they’re a big part of courtship, but courtship is just the beginning.

Moving from lust to love requires us to show our audiences attention; not just for them to give it to us.

Let’s get serious.

150 not out

Innocent Drinks – those masters of simple marketing – have just released a lovely new piece of activity:

“Hello… My name is Alex Horne and I’m trying to set a World Record to one day be the oldest man in the world. I have been attempting this death-defying feat non-stop for the last 31 years and 7 months and although I’m now getting tired, I am still confident that I can keep going.

So please get behind me, wish me luck and warn me of any imminent dangers. Keep checking this site for regular blog, video and twitter updates and watch me avoid the reaper for another century at least.”

Alex’s video tells more of the story:

Equally mad are his 10 reasons why he believes he’ll succeed in living to be the world’s oldest man:

The whole thing is totally daft, but (I think) that’s pretty much the point.

Overall, it’s a great fit with Innocent’s brand personality, but it doesn’t feel like they’re trying to sell me anything.

Obviously the concept of living to be the world’s oldest person fits well with a brand that promotes a healthy lifestyle, but there’s no overt mention of any Innocent products (at least for now).

Other great elements of this initiative include Alex’s blog:

His twitter page:

And the selection of random bits on the website:

Including this great little competition:

They’re supporting it on their wonderful Facebook page too:

Overall, a lovely bit of fun that successfully deepens my relationship with the brand.

I look forward to seeing how this one evolves.

See for yourselves at Long Live Alex.

the essence

the marketing blend

A few years ago, I went to hear Sasha play at Fabric in London.

It was awe-inspiring.

I’d always admired his DJ sets – the way he managed to move so seamlessly from one track to the next.

But this performance was different.

Until that night, I’d been used to hearing him select a series of great tunes and play them one after the other, with no obvious disharmony or rhythmic mismatch.

But from the very start of that set, it was clear something was different.

I couldn’t tell where one tune began and where it ended.

The mood and power of the set still built and progressed, but the music all blurred together into a dreamy sequence of beats and melodies.

He was playing small bits of different tracks wherever and whenever he chose.

He looped small sections of a record – sometimes just single bars – for minutes at a time, tweaking effects and EQ to build the emotion until the crowd were in a trance.

He was chopping up tunes to create new versions and even new music, right there in the DJ booth.

And suddenly, in one night, my view of DJing changed.

Progressive obsessive

It was like Sasha had put his tunes into a blender, rather than merely putting slices of them next to each other on a plate.

I subsequently discovered that he’d achieved this in large part thanks to new technology – namely Ableton Live and a bespoke Maven controller – but that didn’t change the impact of that set (indeed, I became an instant convert to Ableton, and use it to create my own studio sets)

Sasha had totally changed the game.

DJing was no longer just about beatmatching, or harmonic mixing, or even playing tunes no-one else had.

It was about using everything at the DJ’s disposal to create the perfect musical journey for that club and that crowd.

The records, the turntables, the mixer, the effects… they all became mere means to the single, coherent end of delivering the ultimate club experience.

I think we’re about to witness the same kind of shift in marketing.

Marketers as DJs

Until recently, marketers have been been perfecting the existing paradigm.

We’ve incrementally improved our approach to the 4Ps.

And we’re pretty good at it now: our beatmatching is pretty tight, we know which melodic keys work with which others, and we can navigate the mixer with our eyes closed.

We’ve pretty much mastered the marketing mix, and differentiation now comes down to who has access to the latest or rarest tunes.

But what if we took Sasha’s approach and applied it to marketing?

What if we saw all those marketing Ps as fluid ingredients that we can blend together to create a truly seamless journey?

The Marketing Blend

We’ve recognised the potential of integrated communications for some years now, but few (big) brands succeed in integrating the full spectrum of their marketing activities.

Most still approach each element of the mix separately; aspects such as distribution, pricing, R&D, PR, and sales are often handled by different teams with different agendas, egos, and KPIs.

But maybe that’s missing the magic.

Rather than merely integrating communications across channels, brands could integrate everything they do – the full marketing mix – into a single, holistic approach.

Examples

We’ve seen a few examples of this already.

The Domino’s example from last year was an interesting communication and distribution.

Similarly, this initiative from Gap uses a sales channel to communicate a clearly defined message and inspire immediate action at the same time.

Brands like Ben & Jerry’s, Innocent Smoothies and Nike all seem like they’re blending multiple elements of the mix too.

However, I’m not sure any of them has achieved that totally seamless mix.

Yet.

But it’s only a matter of time…



Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 39 other followers