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Lockdown Bounce-back; Time to Plan for Sales Take-off!

Sales of high heeled shoes are down through the lockdown. Now's the time to plan for a lockdown bounce-back

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the lives of us all. So many businesses have been adversely affected through seemingly no fault of their own. But let us look at this a little more closely. To the true marketer there may be more going on than first meets the eye. No doubt opportunities beckon; some you would expect but others you may not. So with plans to ease the restrictions announced (1) now is the time to plan your lockdown bounce-back.

Sales fading away?

Sales of high heeled shoes have fallen dramatically (2) notwithstanding the staying at home, health and fashion memes that are already taking hold. Car usage has also declined due to concerns about climate change and healthy living. And sales, by uncertainty and lack of understanding about electric and hybrid.

Sales of high heels are down in the lockdown. It is time to plan a lockdown bounce-back

Pandemic magnification

However, these underlying shifts are merely being magnified by the C-19 pandemic. And the biggest shift of all … to a digitally dominated world …. is facilitated by evermore smarter phones with increasing accessibility and more acceptable access cost.

The shift is most obvious in retail (3). Whilst many retailers bemoaned the health crisis and gobbled up the Government grants, this merely diverted attention from their inability to anticipate and position themselves to compete in a digital world.  

Identify or face the consequences of shifting markets

Consequences flow from the inflexibility of Marks and Spencer, to the ubiquity of Tesco, to the profit squeezing of fund-owned brands such as Boots and Debenhams. Also the fall from grace of wheeler dealers who grew fat on the glories of pre-existing brands. All of course were further compromised by greedy local government making it difficult and costly to visit any high street.

Bounce-back Marketing Inspiration

As the UK Government recently announced plans to lift the lockdown, now is the time to plan your lockdown bounce-back!

Firstly it is important to consider the overall trends; what are the underlying forces, and what do these mean for your future? This is key to devising effective business and marketing strategies.

A recent CEO survey suggests that 77% of UK CEOS are increasing their investment in digital transformation as a result of the pandemic. So work out the best balance and inter-relationship between on-line and offline, and invest accordingly. Many recognise too that the balance of office and home working has changed forever. This is an opportunity to boost staff morale, as well as improve efficiency, and enhance sustainability credentials. We certainly feel this way. And we’ve heard anecdotal tales of staff at some businesses being told to work more slowly because they were getting more done at home!

Remember too that managing marketing in a digital world contains lots of traps for the unwary. So tread carefully. The quickest wins are likely to come from your core target market. So focus on the ‘sweet-spot’, and promote in tones that reflect the circumstances in which we live.

Lockdown bounce-back also means recognising the long term benefits and the importance of your brand, as well as giving attention to your detailed product and service offering.  So remain true to and clear about what sets you apart.

Going forward retailers must pay more attention to the shopping experience that they control rather than hand it over to the brands they stock and don’t own.  John Lewis, and many garden centres, for example, have long realised the appeal and profitability of restaurants.

And finally the Government must step-up too. And strike a fair playing field in terms of taxing the High Street, and on-line pure plays. It is time to change the rules for those who are based in, or channel revenue through, offshore havens. 

References

(1) Press release from The Prime Minister’s Office February 22 2021
(2) Glossy.co (2020)
(3) A record 35% of sales were online (January 2021 – ONS)
(4) CEO survey (PricewaterhouseCoopers March 2021)

Marketing and Politics; What Can Marketers Learn from the 2019 UK General Election Result?

Marketing politics : Huw Edwards hosting the BBC General Election coverage

As marketing folk, rather than politicians, we think in a particular way. We also have roots across the country, and don’t live in the London bubble. So reflecting on marketing politics over the General Election, and since the EU Referendum, we share thoughts on lessons learned.

It is Friday 13th December and all of the results from the first winter-time general election since 1923 are in. Of 650 seats, the Conservative Party have 365, a clear majority of 80. That’s an increase of 47 more seats, while Labour Party lost 59 seats. The reflects a 44% and 32% share of the vote respectively. The SNP also gained seats with a 45% share of the Scottish vote. The Lib Dems lost one seat overall, most notably that of leader, Jo Swinson. Their vote share was just 11%.

The Conservative seat gains are largely in the North, Midlands and Wales. These are also amongst the highest Brexit supporting areas. And also areas of traditional working class labour support. Though Labour also lost share of vote in strong remain areas (1).

Six lessons learned

1. The winner best matched the electorate’s wishes

According to numerous polls in the run up to the election, the key issue facing the country was firstly, though not universally, Brexit. Second, health (i.e. the NHS). And third of approximatly equal importance, crime, immigration and the economy (2).

Of course, the Brexit issue masks different needs, either to leave or remain in the EU. Nevertheless, the 2016 Referendum result stands, and ‘leave’ was endorsed in the 2019 local European elections. Further, Parliament’s inability to get the job done has compounded public frustration.

2. Simplicity of offering and message

The Conservative message focused primarily on ‘Get Brexit Done’ and also ‘Unleash Britain’s Potential’. Secondarily that enabled investment in the NHS (20 new hospitals, 30-50k new nurses etc.) and 20k more police. Thus cleverly linking the voter’s #2 and #3 concerns to the first. Whereas Labour focused primarily on the NHS (the concern most relevant to their supporters) yet offered a protracted and no obvious solution on Brexit.

Yet interestingly, despite the Conservative’s focus on Brexit messaging, a recent survey suggested that still only some 57% associate the party with this cause. Thus while many of us may be bored with the message, it failed to reach 43%.

3. Messages must be believable

At the same time as promoting ‘Get Brexit Done’ the Conservatives also ‘dissed’ the ambiguity and incredibility of Labour’s position in calling for another referendum, and being unclear what they would support.

Conversely the Labour Party attempted to stoke fear that the NHS would be sold by the Conservatives to Donald Trump). This message was strongly challenged, unsupported by documents provided. Procuring drugs from US companies at the right price appears an entirely different and less relevant point.

4. Targeting by demographics alone is not enough

While historically voting allegiances split along age, wealth and geographic lines, the Brexit issue has complicated this pattern (3). There now appear to be more different types of people with differing underlying concerns. In London, folk are younger, more white collar, work for big, multi-national business and are remain concerned. Whereas in the Midlands, North, and Wales, as well as parts of the South, there are also larger numbers of blue collar, small business, and leave concerned. As the Conservatives have won them over, reading between the lines, it appears that Labour has failed to understand and meet their hopes.

Social media which allows targeting by multiple demographic and psychographic variables seems to have played a significant role.

Of course, it remains to be seen whether Labour voters’ switch of allegiance is temporary or evidence of a fundamental shift in attitudes.

5. Personality counts

The Conservatives elected Boris Johnson leader partly on the premise that he would give them a bounce in the polls. He has also consistently led Jeremy Corbyn on leadership ratings (strong, decisive) (4). While there are many personality issues on both sides, it appears there is considerable anecdotal evidence on doorsteps that JC was a liability. The Conservatives knew this and it was central to their communication strategy – ‘we’re not Jeremy Corbyn’ (rated dislikeable, weak, untrustworthy) (4).

6. Know where you are on the brand lifecycle

Sensing decline under Mrs. May in the Summer, the Conservatives, quickly replaced her with a fresh face. While much has been made of his personal life little appears to have harmed. Again this is interesting, and by comparison, we should remember that a ‘colourful’ personal life appears essential to get top jobs in countries such as France and Italy. Looking to the future, it remains to see what type of Prime Minister Boris Johnson will be. He has the opportunity to choose and learn from others – perhaps Winston Churchill or Ronald Reagan.

Today’s announcement that JC will not stand at the next election in order to oversee a change of leadership and not go quickly seems to prolong Labour’s difficulty. Though perhaps in time, the Labour Party will thank the Conservatives for hastening his end.

Politics and Marketing Inspiration

  1. Successfully marketing politics, political parties, and policies, as well as any product or service, relies on a clear understanding of audiences, their needs and attitudes.
  2. Understanding, segmenting and targeting audiences by needs and attitudes is easier, more discriminating and effective than demographics alone.
  3. Don’t under-estimate the importance of a clear singled-minded message, and benefit, backed by a credible supporting argument. Equally, fuzzy messages are both difficult to understand and identify with. They also question the credibility of the message sender.
  4. Personality is also differentiating. It is fine to have a few warts and use colourful language or display strength of character such as drive and determination, in order to get your message across and engage. Though it is important that your overall beliefs and behaviours are consistent, and grounded in what’s generally regarded as truthful.
  5. Monitor where you are on the brand lifecycle. If sales or support wanes, it is time to rethink your brand communication. Start with #1.

References

  1. Based on EU Referendum estimates by the BBC and Professor Chris Hanratty
  2. Sir John Curtice, Strathclyde University writing for the BBC.
  3. Sir John Curtice’s research on political leadership as published by the BBC
  4. You Gov Political tracker

B2B vs B2C Marketing; What works best on the dance floor?

B2B vs. B2C marketing

B2B vs B2C marketing is a very different proposition. Or is it? The growth of digital media means that there is an increasing number of channels and methods from which to choose. So how should marketers approach the task of engaging and winning customers? It’s a bit like learning a dance.

Comparing B2B vs B2C marketing

B2B vs. B2C marketing

Businesses that Sell to Consumers

The B2C marketing challenge is to build product awareness and convert browsers into buyers.  As it’s usually a ‘low involvement’ purchase, say to buy a confectionery bar, thus marketing campaigns must capture the consumer’s interest immediately. Typically mass promotion activities like tv and press advertising are employed.  In addition, special offers such as discounts or vouchers ‘activate’ the purchase. The challenge is therefore to establish an effective one-step routine.

In the online world, an email or search marketing campaign encourages consumers to click and buy. The email or advertisement encourages consumers to a website landing page designed to sell the product. The purchasing process must be simple and easy, for example, by integrating the shopping basket and checkout page. Requiring more than a couple of clicks risks the customer shopping elsewhere.

Businesses that Sell to Businesses

The goal of B2B marketing is also to convert prospects into customers but the purchase is usually more considered.  More decision makers are usually involved and the challenge is also to engage and educate the target audience and build relationships. To succeed a B2B company must generate and nurture leads over a longer time period. A careless or quick step could mean a lost partner (or customer). The challenge is to therefore also to establish an effective multi-step relationship building routine.

In the online world, an email campaign or online advertising campaign again typically drives prospects to a website. However it is less likely to achieve an immediate sale.  A more realistic goal is to secure a meeting with a sales representative in order to discuss the customer’s business requirements in more detail and also influence him, her or them to buy (i.e. complete a sale). By providing information about the products and services, benefits, features, possibly pricing, and also contact information, reassures customers and wins trust. Conceiving marketing activity as one of several steps in a longer, integrated, multi-step campaign is more likely to persuade. Consider awareness and relationship building via direct mail, newsletters, video promotion, webinars, virtual exhibitions, conferences or live events and also social media such as Twitter or Linked In .

Marketing Inspiration

While there are differences between B2B vs B2C marketing, the principles about engaging and building customer relationships remain the same. At the outset use market research to understand the customer journey from the customer’s point of view.  In particular, the sources of information and the selection criteria that the customer uses, and the triggers and barriers to building awareness, relationships, and drive sales. At each step along the journey, consider how the experience that your brand delivers is different from or better than your competitors. And if it is no different, then work out what improvements to make.

This information will then help you build a better marketing communication strategy. Specifically the key messages, media and timing to attract and engage customers at each step on the journey. If you are a B2B marketer, learn how to dance the marketing 2 or 3 step. And while B2C marketers may be 1 step routine masters, learning a 2 or 3 step routine may help you to build stronger customer relationships. In so doing you will better invest your resources to really make a difference.

Additional reading

1. How B2B customers search for tech solutions, Tenfold.com

Brand Personality; How Kulula Stands-Out in South African Skies

Kulula brand personality

Investing brand personality is an under-estimated way to set brands apart and engage customers. Kulula.com is an airline that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Its humorous brand personality is clear through all aspects of the brand experience. So how did this all begin? And also what lessons can we learn and apply to your brand?

Having identified a gap in the market for a low-cost airline to bring air travel to the South African masses, Kulula.com launched in July 2001. It operates on major domestic routes out of Tambo International Airport and Lanseria on the outskirts of Johannesburg. As building a business based on price alone risks vulnerability to attack from more established airlines, it has hewn a positioning based on ease, inspirational service and safety. This is summed up in its name which means ‘easy’ in Zulu. Though most distinctive is its brand personality. Being totally honest, straight-forward and helping people lighten-up.

Convey brand personality through inventive advertising

Launching with a budget of just 3m rand (c. £200k) demands cut-through communication. The brand launched with a super heroes campaign. The  jingle espouses “Now Everyone Can Fly” (and there isn’t a plane in sight).

Convey personality through product and service appearance

Similarly to easyjet’s bright orange in the UK, Kulula has a distinctive lime green livery.  The unconventional markings include ‘this way up’ and arrows pointing to parts of the plane, including rudder, nose cone, sun-roof. Also to where ‘the big cheese’ (‘captain, my captain’) sits.

Amusing public relations

When South Africa hosted the FIFA World Cup and Kulula.com in 2010 it ran a campaign describing itself as the “Unofficial National Carrier of the You-Know-What”. This took place “Not next year, not last year, but somewhere between”. Another advert announced “affordable flights [to] everybody except Sepp Blatter” (the FIFA president), who was offered a free seat “for the duration of that thing that is happening right now”. Obviously, oblique references to the World Cup which FIFA intervened to stop. Thus creating even more publicity for Kulula.

People are key to brand personality

Kulula flight crew are encouraged to let their natural talent show through. Here are some examples heard of or reported from in-flight “safety lectures” and announcements :

“In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, masks descend from the ceiling and provide free oxygen. Stop screaming, grab the mask, and pull it over your face. If you have a small child travelling with you, secure your mask before assisting with theirs. If you are with more than one small child, pick your favourite.”

“There are 50 ways to leave your lover, but there are only 4 ways out of this airplane.”

“Your seat cushions float; and in the event of an emergency water landing, please paddle to shore and then take them with our compliments.”

“It is with pleasure that Kulula Airlines announces that we have some of the best flight attendants in the industry. Unfortunately, none of them are on this flight!”

“We’ve reached cruising altitude and will now turn down the cabin lights. This is for your comfort and to enhance your flight attendants’ appearance.”

Here are some comments heard after a few extremely hard landings

“Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to The Mother City. Please stay in your seats with your seat belts fastened while the Captain taxis what’s left of our airplane to the gate!”

The airline has a policy which requires the first officer to stand at the door while the passengers exit, smile, and say “thanks for flying our airline”. In light of a particularly bad landing, he had a hard time looking passengers in the eye, expecting a smart comment from someone. Finally a little old woman walking with a cane disembarked the aircraft saying;

“Sir, do you mind if I ask you a question?”
“Why, no Ma’am,”
said the pilot. “What is it?”
“Did we land, or were we shot down?”

Part of a flight attendant’s arrival announcement:

“We’d like to thank you folks for flying with us today. And, the next time you get the insane urge to blast through the skies in a pressurized metal tube, we hope you think of Kulula Airways.”

“As you exit the plane, please gather all of your belongings. If not, we’ll then distribute anything left evenly among the flight attendants. Please do not leave children or spouses.”

“Please be sure to take all of your belongings. If you’re going to leave anything, please make sure it’s something we’d like to have.”

“Thank you for flying Kulula. We hope you enjoyed giving us the business as much as we enjoyed taking you for a ride.”

Marketing Inspiration

  1. Brand personality, i.e. characteristics, beliefs and behaviours, should be a key component of any brand strategy. Use it to enhance the ‘stand-out’ of your brand.
  2. In a world awash with corporate grey, a rich and clear personality, injects colour and breathes life into brands. Executed effectively this maximises impact and engages. It also fuels a strong emotional connection with customers.
  3. When problems occur or disasters strike, as often happens in the service industry, self-deprecation and humour defuses issues and alleviates stress. So allow your people to let their natural personalities shine through. Also recruit people to match your personality and build your brand.
  4. And great ideas also make budgets go further. As Kulula says “smiles and jokes are free” (1).
  5. A humourous brand message and personality entertains. It also creates a talking point and inspires social media and email sharing.
  6. And leave readers to question whether or not this is an April Fool’s joke ….

References

  1. Kulula Airlines

Marketing Christmas with Music

Using music for marketing

SFX: Christmas Bells

Ring, ring. Ring, ring!

Music has long been associated with Christmas, and Christmas with music. The first specifically Christmas hymns (carols) for Christians appeared in the fourth century. Music is also a terrific gift; the size of the market increases in the run up to Christmas and record labels battle to win the coveted #1 single and album slots. Marketers are also catching on to the power of marketing Christmas with music.

For the last three years, John Lewis has been top of the pops in using music to market their business. The Gabrielle Aplin cover of ‘The Power of Love’ used in John Lewis’ 2012 Christmas campaign by Adam & Eve/DDB knocked Olly Murs off the top of the official UK singles chart on 10 December. You can watch it here.

John Lewis’s sales for the week ending Saturday 8 December rose 15% year on year to £142m. John Lewis is attributing this to the success of its “omnichannel strategy”. It says sales were driven by customers looking for that special Christmas gift, including gloves, cashmere, lingerie, handbags or jewellery. The strong performance of gloves as a gift coincides with the Christmas ad showing a snowman making a long journey to get a pair of gloves for his snowwoman.

In 2011, John Lewis used the Slow Moving Millie soundtrack, ‘Please, please, please’ to promote its Christmas offer. This has amassed nearly 5m You Tube views.

Ellie Goulding’s haunting cover of Elton John’s ‘Your Song’ was used in its 2010 Christmas ad. But can you recall the ads pre 2009?

Seasons Greetings to you!

Since we founded our marketing consultancy in 2005, we’ve included lyrics from Christmas songs in our Christmas cards. Finding lyrics that convey the right sentiments is a tough task! Matching words and pictures is equally difficult. This year we’ve selected lyrics from a song written by Leigh Haggerwood called ‘My Favourite Time of Year’. Disappointed at the high-jacking of the Christmas charts by likes of X-Factor, Leigh wrote this song to reflect the true values of Christmas. Also funded without the backing of a record label, and promoted only by social media, it charted at just 40 in December 2010. You can watch it here. ‘There is goodwill in the air tonight’.

Marketing Inspiration

1. Music elicits powerful emotional responses and influences behaviour. It’s also powerful in rekindling memories. Thus if used correctly the sound of sleigh bells can have a powerful effect on tills.

2. Remember the narrative. While many John Lewis ads pre 2009 also used music, for example, Taken by the Trees version of ‘Sweet Child of Mine’ in 2009, Virginia Labuat’s version of ‘From me To You’ in 2008 and Prokoviev’s Romeo and Juliet in 2007, none are arguably as emotionally engaging and heart warming as the more recent ads.

3. Ensure consistency in marketing communications (through different channels and over time) to help get the message across, be understood and acted upon.

The Marketing of Science

Professor Brian Cox - A Scientist in the Media

It was a typical Manchester day as we drove north to my old University town. But a rainy day tinged with excitement at the invitation to listen to the University’s astrophysics professor, and particle physics researcher at the Large Hadron Collider (1) near Geneva, Switzerland, Brian Cox to speak on the subject of ‘A Scientist in the Media’.

Professor Brian Cox - A Scientist in the Media
Professor Brian Cox – A Scientist in the Media

His BBC tv series mesmerise – The Wonders of the Solar System and The Wonders of the Universe. Also, a  physicists take on The Wonders of Life. As Brian explains “It is what hydrogen atoms do when given 13.7 billion years”.

The Cockroft Rutherford Lecture 2012 | Brian Cox
Brian Cox delivers The Cockroft Rutherford Lecture 2012 at the University of Manchester

Marketing science in the tv age

Astronomer, Carl Sagan was one of the first scientists of the television age. His award-winning 1980s series, Cosmos – A personal voyage, opens with the stirring words. 

“The cosmos is all it is, or ever was or ever will be. The contemplations of the cosmos stir us. There is a tingling in the spine, that catch in the voice. A faint sensation as if a distant memory of falling from a great height. We know we are approaching the grandest of mysteries. The size and age of the cosmos are beyond ordinary human understanding. Lost somewhere between immensity and eternity is our tiny planetary home, the Earth. Our future depends on how well we understand this cosmos in which we float like a speck of dust in the morning sky.”

Carl Sagan

Underlining that science not just about creating a few smells and bangs, but a cultural endeavour to understand and also shape our futures.

More recently Jim Al-Khalili‘s (Professor of Physics,  University of Surrey) BAFTA nominated series on Chemistry: A Volatile History and Alice Roberts‘ (medical doctor, anthropologist and Professor at the University of Birmingham) The Incredible Human Journey have won widespread acclaim. Both series have powerful narratives. As testimony to their abilities, both are now Professors in Public Engagement in Science at their respective Universities.

Where science marketing started?

But the promotion of science predates the television age. The Royal Institution of Science first championed public interest in science some 200 years ago. Started by Michael Faraday in 1825, they are most famous for their Christmas Lectures. Situated in Albemarle Street in London, this is also the site of the first one-way system – established to marshall gentry in their horse-drawn carriages to and from the Royal Institution.

The effect on University science applications

With applications for 2012 entry down by 7% vs 2011 (180k) to 2.37 million (1) it is a difficult year for Universities. Further, against the backdrop of up to £9,000 fees introduced this year this is hardly surprising.

Yet what about science specifically? University applications for sciences held up better than the UK average for all subjects and therefore accounted for 33% of 2011 applications compared with 31% in 2010. Biological science applications are also 4.4% (9k) lower. While physical sciences are just 0.6% (546) lower and medicine and related sciences are 1% (4k) higher (2). Applications to the University of Manchester are 10% (5.3k) lower vs 2010.

Looking at another measure of public interest, the book best-seller lists; the hardback of Brian Cox’s The Wonders of The Universe sold over 100k copies in 2011. This was one of only two science related books in the non-fiction hardback top 20, along with David Attenborough’s Frozen Planet (2). In addition, Amazon reported sales of telescopes were up 500% following the airing of Stargazing Live.

So what’s the report card on the marketing of science? Shows much promise; has successfully increased appeal to more than just spotty geeks.

Marketing Inspiration

The media, and television specifically, are powerful means to promote all subject-matter, products and services. Also to win hearts and minds. Use them if you can!

Universities can and should also think like media brands to drive awareness, interest, and demand for their services. Their offerings comprise more than courses, but principles, beliefs and sheer force of personality to inspire and empower. Thus far overall 2011 University of Manchester application figures suggest ‘could do better’ but the 2012 Cockcroft Rutherford lecture is an example of the University at its best. Watch the lecture, be inspired by the answer to life the universe and everything – and the small blue dot that we call home.  

Prof. Brian Cox delivers the Cockcroft Rutheford Lecture 2012

I hope that this blog-post makes a small contribution to the University’s aims!

References

(1) UCAS 2011 in The Guardian

(2) Nielsen BookScan 2011

Communication Strategy; Succeed by Understanding the Customer Journey

The customer journey and relationship ladder

With 96% UK households having internet access in 2020 (1), the ability to buy food, clothes, music, films, sports equipment, holidays, cars etc. has never been easier. Shopping no longer takes place just in the High Street but anywhere, anytime. So what is the impact on how customers shop generally and what does this mean for businesses and brands?

Customers are becoming more mobile and tech savvy

More UK customers shop online compared with other major countries.  Eight in ten (79%) internet users said they ordered goods or services on-line in 2010 (2). They also spent more time on retail sites; an average of 84 minutes in January 2011 compared with 20 minutes for Italy and Poland (2).

Mobile phones are also changing shopping behaviour with significant growth in those connecting to the internet via their mobile phone.  Further smartphone ownership nearly doubled in the UK between February 2010 and August 2011 from 24% to 46% and nearly half used their phone to go online in October 2011 (2).

The use of wi-fi hotspots increased seven-fold from 2007 to 4.9 million in 2011 as has watching TV online with over 27% of UK internet users watching TV online every week (2).

New opportunities and threats

Changes in customer behaviour present new opportunities and threats to ‘bricks and mortar’ and ‘clicks and mortar’ businesses and (r)etailers.

  • As customers shop both in-store and online, there are increasingly complex and overlapping behaviour Thus marketers must understand them.
  • Customers are increasingly multi-tasking; browsing online channels, while doing other tasks, such as watching tv, drinking coffee, and even when browsing the shelves. Thus online communication must complement or enhance the brand experience. It must inform and entertain, not just act as a functional route to purchase.
  • QR code (quick response) and phone apps such as Google Goggles enable customers to find out more about products. Applications even translate languages. Thus product packaging must compete within the visual noise of the category, work harder on a computer screen, and thus make buying easy.
  • Phone applications that use global positioning satellite technology (GPS), such as Foursquare, and O2 Media/Rewards present new High Street promotion opportunities. They allow marketers to target consumers ‘on the go’. Such as, by sending a timely text message when they near a shop.
  • The growth of comparison websites and functions such as Amazon (reviews and star ratings), Facebook (likes), Ciao (user reviews and prices) and TripAdvisor (reviews and ratings) are increasingly influential. Positive reviews, or ‘likes’ are valued by Google as well as prospective purchasers.
Abercrombie and Fitch
Daughters with the male model at Abercrombie and Fitch
  • Mobile phone recording and camera applications allow experiences and ideas to be recorded and shared with friends. These help seek feedback on a prospective purchase (‘what do you think my new dress, mum?’), enhance a brand experience (for example, taking photographs with the hunky model at Abercrombie and Fitch). They also enable promotion and endorsement via tweets, Instagram et al.

Why understand the customer journey?

Understanding the sequence, nature, and importance of the steps in the customer’s journey allows marketers to what influence’s awareness and sales of a particular service or product. In turn how to promote it and where and how to add value. The traditional view of the customer journey is as a linear series of steps, as espoused by Lavidge and Steiner (3) et al.

The customer journey
The customer journey

Though this is less relevant in the online world. With the proliferation of online media, the customer journey is becoming non-linear; a more random, looping, stepping stone process.  Customers use online to aid shopping decisions as well as buy.  Increasingly from the comfort of their own home, desk or even bus! Retail is used to see and touch.  Customers jump to and fro on their journey, reflecting, comparing and considering. They also jump from online to retail and back before finally buying.

The online customer journey
The customer journey (non-linear)

Many factors influence if, how and when they buy, as well as their relationship with, and propensity to endorse a brand.  Online media, specifically fact-finding tools and ratings on Amazon, ebay, Twitter and Facebook et al, play an increasing role.

Marketing Inspiration

  1. Don’t underestimate the speed and impact digital media is having on all markets. New technology provides a host of new communication opportunities. These change the way that customers become aware of products, and are also influenced, and persuaded to buy.
  2. Marketers need to stay one step ahead by using creative qualitative research to understand the offline and online customer journey. Also the relationships between the two. This will then provide a foundation for a coherent marketing communication strategy, with a persuasive message, and also appropriate media to assuage customers to .
  3. View the whole customer journey as a relationship ladder. Your aim is to attract a prospect, build a relationship with them and ultimately encourage advocacy of your brand.

References

(1)   Office for National Statistics, Internet access – households and individuals, February 2020

(2)   OFCOM, Sixth International Communications Market Report, December 2011

(3)   Lavidge Robert J and Steiner Gary A A Model of Predictive Measurements of Advertising Effectiveness: Journal of Marketing, vol. 25, no 6, 1961.

Best Outdoor Marketing Communication Campaigns?

Great Outdoor marketing communication. Aquasun - UK

I love posters! They epitomise great marketing communications. Like all communications they must clearly impress. However if viewed from a speeding car, the message must be recognised and understood in milliseconds.  From a technical point of view this therefore requires a single-minded (and hopefully matching) marketing communication strategy and execution. Engaging and motivating via this medium also presents a myriad of creative opportunities.

With consumers exposed to an increasing panoply of media, and over a 1000 messages a day, the task of developing great marketing communications is more challenging than it has ever been.

There are two key elements to great marketing communications. The first is the message, and the second is the medium through which to communicate the message. Here we’ve gathered some of the best outdoor marketing communication campaigns. Why? Simply because they can be easily illustrated, reviewed and used to make a point in a blog!

Some of the Best Outdoor Marketing Communication Campaigns

How great is your marketing communication?

Here’s a checklist to consider when creating your next advertisement (poster or otherwise):

  • Cut-though; does it command attention, and engage or involve?
  • Comprehension; do you understand the message?
  • Benefit driven; does the message suggest a clear and tangible benefit? Does it meet a relevant need?
  • Credible; is the benefit message believable, justified by one or more facts?
  • Provoke a change in perception or behaviour; are you motivated to think about a brand, think differently about a brand or more inclined to try, buy or repeat buy?

Marketing Inspiration

  1. Consider posters or billboards as a way to pressure test your marketing communication strategy or advertising campaign before investing heavily. If your poster or billboard campaign arrests in a second or so, then you could have a winner on your hands. Conversely, if it fails to arrest, consider that a warning for other media.
  2. Remember Vance Packard’s words – ‘the medium is also the message’ (1). Outdoor  lends itself to high impact, creative executions which say something extra about brands. It’s also highly relevant to brands that target an outdoor, travelling or car driving demographic, and those purchased more frequently. In other words where daily ad viewing could quickly boost purchase.
  3. Finally, posters attract media attention. So consider investing in a single poster site to catalyse extra publicity via public relations. To make sure your message goes ‘viral, also try to find an unusual creative idea or ‘angle’. Thus, try to challenge conventional wisdom, surprise, shock, entertain or amuse.

References

(1) Packard, Vance; The Hidden Persuaders (1957)

Content Marketing; Why Every Brand should think like a Media Brand

Guinness Book of World Records | Content marketing

With around 90% of UK homes (ONS: 2018) connected to the Internet, the Internet is now an everyday part of our lives both at home and work. After search engines, and social media sites, media brands are among the most visited sites on the web. Globally the BBC, IMDB and CNN rank highly and in the UK, the Guardian, Telegraph, Daily Mail, and Times online newspapers as well as Sky also lead the pack.

So what can we learn from media brands and what are ways to ape them?

Content drives traffic

In the world of the Internet content is king. Thus, content, or more precisely, search terms should be at the heart of your strategy in order to attract customers to your website. The act of simply embedding keyword friendly code and text into your website drives traffic.

Establishing a blog has a similar effect. Using both keywords and links to websites increases website visitors by 55%, inbound links by 97% and indexed pages by 434% (Source: Chris Garrett)

Content marketing (1) adds value to brands

Broadband and web 2.0 enables rich multi-media offerings including You Tube and the BBC iplayer. Thus the ‘lean forward’ mode of Internet usage no longer dominates, and merges with the more ‘laid back’ mode of watching tv.

Pampers Content Branding
Pampers Village Baby Portal

This array of multi-media fuels more compelling brand experiences. Experiences that not only inform, but also entertain, and engage. For example, Pampers, the disposable nappy brand, now runs a portal covering almost everything mums need to know about pregnancy and babies. It is a thought-leader in the group and created new ways to interact and build relationships with child-bearing mums through the early years of their child’s life.

By including embedded video, even the most banal of business-to-business offerings now engage more emotionally.

New channel or route to market

In the world of the Internet, websites are also new routes to market or sales channels. But the difference is that they are sales channels that you can control. We’re all familiar with Amazon. Launched in 1994 Amazon is now a top performing (in terms of traffic) website in most countries of the world. It dominates the book market. Not only is this driven by the wide list of books stocked but also user-generated content such as book reviews and searchable book content.

New promotion opportunities

Of course, media are also means or channels to communicate messages to customers. They also influence, or actually are, the message itself.

As long ago as 1937, P&G produced what became known as the first ‘soap opera’. So called due to the soap powder advertisement that followed the show. Called ‘Guiding Light’ – the first soap opera was a US daytime radio series. It transferred to tv in 1952 and aired until 2009.

Guinness World Records content branding
Guinness World Records

The Guinness Book of Records started in 1955 as a marketing give-away for the Guinness brand. It still regularly tops the book best-seller lists. It also spawned franchised museums. The book and museum franchise are now owned by the Jim Pattison Group (Ripley’s Entertainment) being sold by Diageo in 2001. With foresight of the multi-media possibilities, perhaps the book would still be Guinness owned.

Creating ‘genre’ or subject driven websites conveys authority as well as cross promotes brands. In the baby care arena, Pampers is a good example.  There are unbranded examples too. For example, Diageo runs unbranded whisky websites to indirectly promote its brands.

Control costs

According to the IAB, the Internet overtook television to become the largest advertising sector in the UK in 2009. That’s a record spend of £1.75bn on search. This made the UK the first major economy, and the second after Denmark, to achieve this landmark. With the auction model driving pay-per-click price inflation there will inevitably become a point where brand owners scream ‘too much is too much’. So amass your own content to drive a high natural search ranking. And also a safety valve to contain costs.

Marketing Inspiration

In the world of the Internet, content is king. So use content to build and promote your brand. Also to add value, build stronger relationships with your customer, and tell your brand story. Create and use content to create more inventive and lower cost promotion vehicles and routes to market. As everyone is jumping in on the act from entrepreneurial bloggers and instagrammers to businesses, don’t be left behind!

Content marketing (1) references

(1) Since first writing this article, the term ‘content marketing’ is now common parlance. It is simply a form of marketing communication. Content marketing even has its own page on Wikipedia.

Twitter Marketing; To Tweet or Not to Tweet?

Social media marketing - Twitter

Or embrace other social media?

Twitter should be part of your social media strategy
Twitter – the name derives from the chirping of birds.

Twitter was founded in 2006 by Jack Dorsey. Many in the marketing profession thought it would fail. It didn’t. But should Twitter marketing be part of your mix?

By January 2021 Twitter amassed over 330 million active monthly users. Thus it is now a mass medium. Twitterers include most media companies, such as CNN, the BBC, the Guardian and the marketing press. A red carpet full of celebrities; Katy Perry @katyperry) is the female with largest following (109m (Jan 21)), Justin Beiber has 114m, politicians; @BarackObama has 128 m (Jan 21), and many of the media brands dominate the top 150. The followings of these folk change daily so follow the links to check the latest numbers (1)!

Businesses have now embraced the medium big-time but they still have further to go

Top corporates include @youtube, Google’s video platform (ranked #10 (Jan 2021) though with far fewer followers than many celebs. Other corporates include NASA, Samsung, Starbucks, Cadbury and Dell. These appear in various guises such as products, CadburyDairyMilk (@DairyMilk and @GoneFairtrade) and @Cadbury_Gorilla and as channels or customer service centres. Dell’s presence spans outlet stores such as @delloutlet in the USA, customer service representatives and a growing number of staff.

Twitter marketing benefits?

More customer reach

Twitter’s more open nature is a plus to reach new markets. 60m users live in the USA and the rest beyond. The demographic is slightly more male (62%) than female (38%). Millennials came of age on Twitter so are the largest age group; 80% are under 50 years old. Users are slightly more likely to be college-educated than not too. The growth in smart-phone penetration and faster bandwidths supports Twitter, and social media generally, evolving further into the mainstream. Especially in developing countries.

New promotion vehicle

Twitter allows both mass and individual customer (or follower) communication and engagement to the web and mobile devices. It can also amplify your social media messages as it integrates with platforms including Facebook, Linked In and Instagram. Twitterfeeds can also be exported to websites and blogs.

Brand engagement

The short nature of the messages is more casual and less corporate thus removing a barrier to communication and that many consumers see in engaging with businesses. The mobile nature of the medium also enables live messaging, such as live news, information and picture sharing from events, product launches, presentations etc. Brand awareness and engagement can enhanced through innovative content such as humour and thought leading ideas. During the Wimbledon 2010 tournament, @andy_murray promoted a tennis player snack game (John MacEnrolo, Martina Haggis). This helped soften his image, prompted many retweets and followers.

Twitter @OptaJoe
@OptaJoe on Twitter

Opta the football information company (for example @OptaJoe) always adds a final quirky and cryptic sign-off to their football coverage. This is helping them develop a football celebrity and almost cult following.

Search engine enhancement

The searchable nature of tweets means that it can play a key part in driving traffic to your website. Our experience is that traffic to The Marketing Directors marketing consultancy website from @themarketingdirectors was around 20% of the total in 2009 though this has reduced to around 1-2% today. While adding topical content, we’ve also found that adding a live twitterfeed to our home page increases bounces and reduces our overall search engine ranking.

New sales channel

Twitter works like an add-on to the web. By embedding links into tweets, followers (and the Internet population at large) can be directed to your website. Either to collect names for direct marketing or drive direct sales. Dell, for example, has over 80 corporate twitter accounts which promote a range of ‘unique to twitter’ offers.

Competitor and trend monitoring

Twitter can form part of your corporate early warning radar system to help spot opportunities and threats. Some companies only appear to follow competitors, for example, Cadbury follows other chocolate firms.

Customer relationship building

To follow you is to get to know you, and potentially like, trust and buy from you. Twitter lends itself to both casual mass communication and personal communication with specific individuals. Use it to answer questions and enter into dialogue. As Dell has discovered it can turn detractors into friends such that its employees are now encouraged to open accounts.

Customer research

The research department will also find it useful to ask your customers questions, monitor brand mentions, identify trending topics and analyse your own followers (www.socialoomph.com). We find it particularly useful to keep track of, and find market research partners, in different parts of the world.

Job hunting

There are lots of employment agencies out there!

Political campaigning

There are growing numbers of politicians on Twitter. One of their most famous (or infamous) users (though recently removed from the platform) was ex President of the USA, Donald R. Trump. During the 2020 US Presidential Election his 5am tweets set the election agenda for the day.

Twitter marketing disbenefits?

Creative challenge

An original downside was that messages had to be encapsulated in 140 characters and that included links. However 280 characters are now allowed. Nevertheless this encourages brevity and clarity!

Commercial models

While there are lots of good practices, the rules for making money using twitter are still evolving. The marketing rules however remain the same as they did during the dot-com boom. Insight and ingenuity are both required.

Management time

Setting-up a Twitter account is quick though ongoing management is time-consuming. Use automation software such as socialoomph.com to lift the load. As with the web, there will always be time wasters and spammers. These issues easily distract or overwhelm but reduce through simple technology fixes, such as anti-spam or human verification software.

Unofficial brands

The seeming lack of regulation on Twitter means that there is a risk of unofficial twitterers occupying your turf – so aim to mark and protect your brand! One of our favourites is @Queen_UK (who pre-empted HRH Queen Elizabeth who was a late follower in 2014)!

Twitter Marketing Inspiration!

Twitter is a high reach marketing communication medium though over the years engagement levels have fallen. Nevertheless Twitter marketing has a role in your social media strategy. It can be a boon to businesses, and both marketers and researchers alike. The barriers to entry are almost nil and the upside potential remains high. As with all digital media, expect the platform to evolve over time. Image and video tweets are now possible as is advertising.

1. Messaging and commercial strategy; Think carefully about content and define your voice – both are differentiators and vital to engage. Once you’ve decided on your strategy stick to it so as not to alienate followers. In our early days we tweeted a couple of jokey messages very early one morning and lost half a dozen followers! Twitter is ripe for new business models and some of the world’s hottest news stories start here.

2. Targeting; Think carefully about who you want to target, and define your target using keywords. Following your competitors is a good place to start….

3. Measurement: Successful marketing starts with measuring your social media effectiveness. There are many free tools to measure your growing follower count, your friends and followers (FriendorFollow.com), your influence (Klout.com), mentions (Socialoomph.com) and embedded link clicks (bitly.com). Try and measure sales conversion or ROI too!

4. Then just open an account, watch, learn and experiment….

Call us for help to get your message across in the most cost effective way. We view digital marketing as part of the wider marketing mix, and encourage you to simply put your money where it delivers best returns. Just call us for help.

References

  1. Top 50 Twitter followers
  2. Twitter demographics