Tag: Marketing


Look to the future please!

Of the many (hundreds?) meetings we have had with various potential clients over the past few months there’s a common theme that continues to stifle nearly all of them: The future.

At times it’s almost like we’re fighting a crisis of courage where the decision gatekeepers are seduced more by the comfort zone of mediocrity than the safety zone of leadership.

We are in the privileged position to be able to make a sizeable difference to the current performance of our customers’ digital adventures, but when you sit at certain tables, you can’t help thinking that there are very few companies that really plan beyond what can realistically be called a “quick fix”.

Sure, I enjoy nothing more than sorting out the digital maps and creating relationships between all departments – PR, marketing, web, sales, SEO – in the strategic planning of communications decisions, but as the magnificent Katie Paine put it on her return from the third European Digital Leadership Conference:

Marketers are still looking for those big numbers, and when confronted with much more meaningful metrics like the percent of all those “likes” that are actually engaged in sharing and commenting on your content, the numbers are just too small to register in the marketers’ minds.”

I would go a little further. While it obviously affects marketing, the reality is that this mindset affects all corporate silos with the result that very few companies invest further than the next quarter, which makes introducing a more accurate, scientific approach based on big data that would allow them to understand and leverage their customers’ and prospects’ real-world relationships to substantially improve customer acquisition, cross-sell and retention, all the more difficult.

As curious (and at times overly-assertive!) observers of the online world, our view of the web shares much with this brilliant piece from ZDNet:

The world wide web remains one of the greatest disruptive forces in human history. On an average day it can give you access to a vast wealth of human knowledge from a simple search box, show you snapshots from the lives of friends and family spread across the planet, provide a world-class education for freecrowdfund solar power in ways that governments can’t affordredistribute food that would have been wasted, and sweep corrupt rulers into the dustbin of history.

There is a huge structural change in the systems of communication we are used to underway and it affects everything from politics to e-commerce. And yet when we sit at certain tables, the sad truth is that these nascent systems of new standards and behaviour pale behind “right-now” media planning and “safe” forecasts that blindly consider the web as just another channel for an extra sale – an idea I fully support when that same sale generates value for both my clients and their customers.

It’s not all bleak, though. Some smart agencies (no names) and customers are starting to look beyond the “either/or” marketing proposals and are adopting interesting marketing strategies, even older ideas like this one which have instantly-recognisable value and are still being discussed but have yet to gain the traction they deserve.

What’s your view on the marketing landscape? Are you planning to survive, or building a leadership?


Marketing shift

Right now I’m doing what most single-task males would consider a foolish task at best. Attempting to read two books at once.

It wasn’t an intentional move – I’m not that stupid, but as the various US-based social networks and people I follow started to come alive with pre-release reviews of The Age of Context by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel, I gave in and had it delivered to my Kindle in under thirty seconds.

Dilemma: resist, finish the admittedly brilliant but decidedly paper-based Ctrl Alt Delete by Mitch Joel or sneak a peak at AoC to see what all the buzz was about?

Digital won so I’ve started a book I’m going to have to read a couple of times in succession.

The argument of context has always been something I’ve treated with the utmost respect and rigidity ever since I landed my first copywriting job at Acer. The idea that a marketing activity (product naming, event, social media strategy) can be created without context removes all trace of coherence from the message the brand wishes to convey. It’s so obvious that I’m still astounded when I see SMB’s (and some large companies) launch activities with clearly no idea of the context that activity will have to do battle in.

That’s advertising. Things get worse when you start trying to encapsulate a social media strategy into a process that doesn’t consider the context of the activity. Big mistakes are made when companies lose sight of the context but at least here they get to react to critical feedback almost in real time.

But what about the whole system of commerce and communication? As The Age of Context itself states on the very first page: “The five forces of context are everywhere. [They] are changing your experience as a shopper, a customer, a patient, a viewer or an online traveler…  They know where you are and in what direction you are headed when you carry a smartphone. They are in your car to warn you when you are too close to something else. They are in traffic lights, stores and even pills… … All five of these forces – mobile, social media, data, sensors and location – are in the hands of more people every day, and it means that every business will have to adjust course to include context in their strategies.

Mobile, social media, data, sensors and location. Now that’s a marketing shift.



When you open the gate, they will come. That’s good.

It’s not all roses in the world of Social Media. Just because contacts in some of the most important social media sites are called “friends” doesn’t mean building an effective social media presence is easy.

The first thing to expect when you open a social media site is customers with issues.

The fact that you want customers to participate means it’s easy for them to make comments, both good and bad.

Good comments prove a point you’ve already made and help other visitors “believe”. Bad comments on the other hand increase the website’s credibility. How?

Because bad comments make your company more “human” and give you an opportunity to show your customers count.

The trick to transforming a negative comment into a positive dialogue is to acknowledge and address the real problems and disprove the false ones immediately and publicly.

This is where “outreach” happens.

Outreach is where you monitor the web and major social networks (Twitter and blogs primarily) for conversations about your brand that aren’t under your control and then activate measures to resolve the issues back at your home site.

By participating in external dialogues you show you’re listening, then by bringing the issue “home”, you address it publicly for a wider audience, gaining more authority and even greater trust.

Outreach then, by its very nature, is the fastest way to get your customer service division involved in your social media activities.

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