September 05, 2010
Making The Case...
Recently, we discussed the idea of ‘The Case Study’. The Case Study, as a concept, seems so fundamental it’s almost not worth discussing. But this is exactly why we chose to.
When you look at case studies (if you do…do you?), why are you looking? Are you searching for successful results to justify your own campaign? Creative inspiration? Or something else altogether?
Most marketing teams have a set of case studies to refer to in new business meetings or awards showcases and a lot of case studies set out to highlight what a company does – to help promote the marketing department. In this sense, the focus is likely more on the creativity and results, than the ideology and process behind the execution – the case study is a promotion piece. So, does a case study represent ‘who we are and what we do’ or ‘what we do and how we do it’?
Is a case study about campaign creativity or marketing principles?
It’s about both. A case study serves the same essential purpose as a user review – to vouch for the reputation of a brand. The reputation, as the brand presents it, can then be more creatively or strategically focused but it will always include both.
And up came the famous adage, dividing the audience into ‘Show-Me people and Tell-Me people’. The intent of the case study comes from the brand behind it – it is going to be just something to talk about? Or look at? Or is it a learning The intent of the case study comes from the brand behind it – it is going to be just something to talk about? Or look at? Or is it a learning tool to showcase the thought process behind the execution?
September 04, 2010
Using Digital To Connect Audience and Brand Story
Time has released its big list of the Top 50 Websites of the year. The sites hit a range of topics across arts, news, sports, business and more. What’s interesting is that at least 80% of them are all based in the idea of engagement. Yes, some of them have great design (Vimeo is so much prettier than YouTube) but they also have a purpose and story to interact with.
No longer is a website about dispatching information. The new digital engages users. Not necessarily as the next Twitter, but engage them none the less. MIT, for example, offers ‘OpenCourseWare’ to engage the audience not directly attending MIT; Creating accessibility to a broader scope. That’s the great thing about digital (including but not strictly about social media) – it allows you to connect with your brand and story with your audience.
In homage to the Time Top 50, we’ve come up with our own list of inspirationally engaging sites we’ve come across as of late:
Rackspace ‘building43′ – the web hosting service sponsors a site dedicated to user-generated content focused on sharing thought leading ideas about technology, web and design.
Europe by Eurostar – Eurostar’s new site dedicated to user-generated European travel reviews and tips; a little bit TripAdvisor, a little bit the Eurostar product.
Business Week’s Business Exchange – an homage to LinkedIn discussions (and integrating your own LinkedIn contacts) mixed with content of Business Week.
The Economist Thinking Space – an interactive microsite showcasing innovation inspiration from global thought leaders. Next steps are to integrate user-generated and location-based content.
What other sites have you seen that really connect brand with audience?
September 01, 2010
What Works for the Worker, Works for the CustomerYesterday, I wrote about our roundtable discussion on internal communications. I mentioned staff communications and it's effect on customer/client needs.
This was the golden nugget we uncovered during our chat - at the end of the day, proper internal comms drive more value from your customer and client relationships. And not just monetary value: loyalty, recognition, association, recommendations, on and on and on. An excited, informed staff member is better equipped to provide a greater service experience to your audience (Zappos being the most obvious of examples…)
Internal communication, then, cannot be an afterthought. Communication affects service. Communication is service; A service to your employees which improves service for your customer.
It’s not a new concept but it is one that, in our world of increasing content and decreasing time for it all, can be easily forgotten on the back burner.
We've started a few growing group discussions on LinkedIn around these ideas - would be great to hear your thoughts either here on the blog or over in the discussion groups.
Is it useful to think of Communications as a Service?
August 30, 2010
Communication is a Service, Not a Cost
Looking through the Marketing Society’s 50th Anniversary book ‘The Future of Marketing’, sponsored by Accenture. These words stood out particularly, from Ian Livingstone, CEO of BT: ‘From a customer point of view, irrelevant advertising is an imposition. Truly relevant advertising is a service.’ Too true Ian.
But I’d go one stage further than that. I’d actually say: Truly Relevant Service is Advertising, or at least ‘publicité’ as the French would have it. Businesses have always understood that the experience of the brand is as much to do with the people and the service as it is to do with the promotion. More so in many cases as B2B marketing budgets have always been smaller than desirable.
So, I’d like to see the Future of Marketing in B2B as one in which marketers get involved in service delivery, not just comms delivery. Oh, and I’d also like to see a major B2B brand talking about business audiences in the next edition of the Marketing Society book. But suspect I’ll have to wait 50 years for that.
August 29, 2010
Have You Seen the Muffin Man?
Earlier this year, I attended a CBI Council meeting. As always, it’s fascinating to listen to how a wide variety of companies are dealing with the world as we know it. Service businesses in the main come out well – perhaps because they are more agile and able to adapt their services to what’s needed in the current marketplace. So law and accountancy firms are seeing a reduction in contract briefs but an increase in resolution or winding up orders. All sounds a bit ‘ambulance-chasing’ but it means that they’re still in business, still employing people and still keeping the economy turning.
What was agreed overall is that companies have reacted differently to this recession. Rather than laying people off they’ve changed their working conditions (a la Honda). Rather than closing, they’ve sought to diversify.
Which brings me to the Muffin Man. Recently, I bought some muffins off a stall in Cambridge market. They were about 4 times as expensive as the ones you can buy in Sainsbury’s. But they were handmade by the stall holder, who was charming and we had a long discussion about how hungry kids are when they come out of school and how muffins were just right. Trouble is, the children hated his muffins. But, I reflected, as I threw them in the bin, at least I’m keeping the economy going by buying them in the first place. Although perhaps I should suggest he diversifies – into aggregates.
August 28, 2010
Time to Start Thinking Differently About Digital Marketing
The obsessive focus by marketers on acquisition makes less sense in the current climate.
Marketers have transitioned their activities from offline advertising to online advertising,seeking ways in which to use social media to, well, advertise – despite the fact that that’s not how the medium seems to work.For a start, markets are retracting, making the retention of customers an essential exercise. Secondly, customers are more likely to be influenced by what peers say about product or service on a social networking site than by an ad, and never more so than in B2B decision making where advertising has always hovered around a mere 15% of marketing spend.
I'd love to hear your thoughts - has your business grabbed digital marketing by the horns?
What are you doing that's engaging?
August 27, 2010
Stickybits: The Newest Addition to the Business Social Media Toolkit?
This year’s SXSWi-ers were the first user group to be introduced to the world of Stickybits, a new user-gen content-and-location app. It’s been making pretty big waves across social and news media so we decided it was time to have a go with it in the office.
Essentially, it is a barcode to which you can upload content with your smartphone and stick to real-life objects. You can attach any sort of content to it (pictures, images, copy, audio, etc...) including the location, if you want. Other people can then discover and scan the barcode to see what you’ve uploaded (the content that ‘owns’ the bar code) and can add content to it (a bit like commenting on a blog - so everyone who scans/views the code after you will be able to view the content you've added).
Try scanning the barcode above (you will have to download the app, but it's free) to see how it works.
Official barcodes can be bought or downloaded from the Stickybits site but, in an interesting twist, you can apparently also ‘tag’ (add) your content to existing barcodes as well (yep, even the one on that can of cola on your desk).
I’m not entirely convinced it’s eternally practical, especially in a broad scope of accessibility as it's a smartphone app and not a web based app. Part of the appeal of Twitter, Facebook, et al. is that they are web-based with mobile capacity, meaning they are more accessible to more people, in more ways, in wider demos. Stickybits is for smartphone users only (and not even all smartphone users - though Adam, our resident Googlevangelist, is happy they’ve included Android).
I also imagine there’s a huge amount of trust needed to make this work in a family-friendly, legit way for any sort of long term stability. I don’t think anyone wants to see streets lined with Stickybits or stumble across disturbing content (though apparently there is a ToS to abide by) while they're innocently scanning away.
Still, it’s intriguing. It opens up the door for brands (and not just the consumer ones, either!) to add another layer of interactive messaging to a physical product; a new layer of contact for building relationships.
It's a great step in the direction of on and offline integration and there’s huge potential to get really creative with it. Brands can incorporate reviews, best practice guides, user manuals, product notes, inventory, tracking, feedback forms, viral contesting , maps, business information, networking details… the barcode is your oyster.
So now I put it to you – have you tried it out? Come up with some good ideas? Have any thoughts on its practicality, longevity or even relevancy?
August 25, 2010
Who's In Your Audience?Earlier this year, I attended a seminar in Branding & Communications Today.
It was a morning of examining brand strategies and key demographics. The phrase of the day was definitely 'Gen Y', after a presentation focused purely on exploring the behaviours (on and offline) of the social media generation (those born '81 to '01) who were also affectionately referred to as Young Fogey's, for their tendancies to behave older than their years, despite their depictions in the media).
At the end of the morning, we broke into groups and discussed the morning's presentations. When the topic of Gen Y inevitably came up, one of the members in our group posed an interesting question:
Do you consider your audience based on age/gender/routine or do you consider your audience in terms of their lifestyle and behaviour?
An example he gave of this was a 40 year old divorcee regressing into juvenile behaviour compared against an 'Young Fogey' behaving wise beyond his (or her) year's.
While the process of considering demographics is clearly not as clean cut as A or B, it's still an interesting thought, don't you think?
August 24, 2010
More Than an MP3......
A bit of horn-tooting for one of Omobono's (former) own, Andy, who has used his digital mastery for an exciting new project of his own, called 3DiCD.
It is a digital experience for online music, providing interactive packaging along with the music files. As they have said: “With a 3DiCD, listeners get the whole packaging experience; engagement and immersion all within the online environment.
Last week, Andy and the 3DiCD team launched with a digital version of Imogen Heap’s Grammy award winning album, Ellipse. You can check it out here.
We wish Andy and the team the best of luck.
August 23, 2010
Does Marketing Need to be 'Official'?
So it’s official. Relationship building websites work. At least that is the finding of a study on P&G’s customer experience website in Greece (the equivalent of www.supersavvyme.com).
This was one of the papers presented at the Academy of Marketing Conference, a convention of academics who study and research what we practitioners do for a living. The paper showed that broadening the customer-company relationship via the website increased positive word of mouth towards the website, and intentions to increase purchase of the company’s products.
So far, so good. Except they haven’t compared it to other relationship building websites. Or outside Greece. And the statistical differences are so miniscule you’d need a microscope to see them.
A second paper looked at whether loyalty cards increased customer satisfaction and loyalty. Answer? Not really. The reason being that all stores have loyalty cards so it’s a must, not a differentiator.
What was interesting about both these papers is that the research process (which is incredibly robust, uses lots of very complex terminology and some graphs that make you glad you’re no longer at school) revealed what I would argue most marketers know by gut – that making an effort to broaden your customer’s interaction with your brand or company (as long as it’s relevant and useful) is going to make them more likely to want to do business with you. And that marketing’s job is to keep ahead of the game constantly. Once you have a good idea (like storecards) your competitors will catch up – meaning you have to move ahead of the pack again. That’s what makes our jobs so stimulating.
However, wile the academic community is pontificating about whether 0.03 is a meaningful statistical difference we are judged by whether it actually made any difference to the success of our client’s companies. So it’s left me wondering why we marketers are so desperate to have our ‘gut instincts’ validated by research?
Would welcome anyone’s views.