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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. 


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

Managing Marketing in the Digital Age

UK online usage by age 2019 Fig 1: Managing marketing in the digital age

Everyone knows how much our lives have changed since the advent of the digital age and C-19.

The Coronavirus digital catalyst

The number of platforms, their actual usage and also time spent online has just grown and grown. It also sky-rocketed at the height of the Spring Coronavirus lock-down to 4 hours and 2 minutes a day (April 2020) compared with the mean time spent online in 2019 of just 3 hours and 19 minutes (1).  And linked to this the online proportion of total retail sales also sky-rocketed to nearly 33% compared with less than 20% through the whole of 2019 (May 2020)(3).

It is fair to say that this massive growth caught everyone by surprise except the early digital adopters who could easily be underestimated as nerds, the youth of today or both!

Looking to the future

The world will never be the same again. Let’s face it, digital permeates every aspect of life for every generation of whatever creed or country. Generation Y (so-called Millennials) watched as the digital world erupted around them, and Generation Z were the first generation to live digital lives from birth. The current lock-down can only embed the shift to digital. And the children of Millennials (Generation Alpha) are set to be the most digitally savvy ever (Figure 1).

UK online usage by age 2019

Dominance of Google and Facebook

But did you know the extent to which Google and Facebook dominate online reach and time spent online? (Figure 2). In the UK, they reach over 95% adults and command over 45 minutes and 30 minutes a day respectively. Their dominance is such that a massive 39% of total time is spent on Google-owned media (including YouTube) and Facebook-owned media (including Instagram and Whats App) (4).

UK reach and usage of prominent online media 2020

And as the public turned online, so has Marketing. As a result, some 57% of total UK advertising expenditure now goes online. Initially and still mostly to Google, who offer certainty of audience reach at a competitive cost and also expertise on the vagaries of search and algorithms. All without the need for a long term commitment to planning or creativity.

Yet their costs have grown and thus the balance of spend has tilted their way at the expense of TV and press, outdoor and public relations, and even other online media. Such that some 78% of online advertising spend, now goes to Google and Facebook (5). However, advertising was not their original nor primary intent, and their advertising and analysis offers are only based on a superficial understanding of marketing. Not for these digital experts the troublesome need to build brands or customer loyalty, but merely to attract clicks.  

However, there are now signs that the emperors’ clothes are wearing thin. Google’s annual minutage fell in 2019 (6), and search advertising revenue appears to be flat-lining. Though Facebook advertising shows continued growth (Figure 3).

Google and Facebook advertising income : Moving annual total to 2020
Google and Facebook advertising income : Moving annual total to 2020

The role of marketing in the digital age

So how to manage marketing in the digital age? Building strong brand relationships and customer loyalty remain the bedrock of marketing.

While the digital world perpetuated keeping in touch and entertainment in many forms, customer usage also expanded through predictive text and emoji. Because people do what they always do … congregate and gossip, and be amused and saddened.

For human nature is what it is. And understanding human nature and their concomitant behaviour is also at the heart of Marketing.

Marketing Inspiration

The fundamentals to manage marketing in the digital age remain constant as much as change is a constant. It is in embracing change and remaining customer-centric that Marketing is most successful.

The Marketing Director’s role is to understand and exploit the change to benefit their organisation by always staying one step ahead. That’s what successful marketing has always done and must continue to do.

To help you stay a step ahead, we’ve now launched Volume 2 of The Marketing Director’s Handbook – Managing Digital Marketing. This spotlights, and puts marketing in the digital age in context. It provides practical insights to help you understand the changing digital world and also to manage key digital marketing activities. In particular, to optimise your website for search, and better use advertising, and social media to attract and engage more customers. And most fundamentally to better lead your organisation, and manage the marketing whole.

This new volume fits like a jigsaw piece with the original practical marketing guide. It is a unique reference work you’ll be able to refer to time and time again. It is available from all good bookshops, including The Chartered Institute of Marketing bookshop, Foyles, Waterstones, WH Smith, Blackwells, Amazon, many university bookshops, as well as our own bookshop (with free P&P).


1, 2, 5 and 6. OFCOM Online Nation 2020. Base: All adults 18+

3. Office of National Statistics May 2020.

4. OFCOM Communications Market Report September 2020.

Marketing; The New Digital Marketing

The Marketing Director's Handbook

‘Stay with me baby’ – from the Walker Brothers to Leanne Jarvis (1966+)

Staying contemporary and relevant is essential for successful marketing. Especially in the ever-changing digital world. However the basics of marketing, consumer and brand remain constant. So does the marketing director’s main function – to stimulate demand through great products and communication.

However, by examining these factors individually, a pattern emerges which helps improve marketing effectiveness.

‘Digital marketing’ is no longer separate from ‘marketing’

Firstly, the almost obvious point is that ‘digital marketing’ is no longer separate from ‘marketing’. The popularity of the smart phone (now in 78% penetration in the UK) (1) and the ongoing march of the tablets (now with 58% UK penetration) combined with the ubiquitous Internet and ever faster access speeds mean that ‘mobile marketing’ is all around us. Appreciating that mobile is digital, then the term ‘digital’ is no longer as isolationist as the term implies. Everything we do is created, managed, recorded and also reported digitally. So now the starting point is to think digitally, from the outset. Particularly in planning and selecting media, and using the right platforms.

Web-based platforms are becoming more advanced

The demand to monetise, for Google, Facebook, Twitter et al, means growing advertising revenue. Further, this means making themselves more relevant to brands – to deliver relevant communication to consumers that brands wish to target. Google’s algorithmic heart beats faster as the metaphoric Hummingbird’s wings beat faster and faster to seek out the nectar in search behaviour. And thus sell it to us. That ‘nectar’ is message relevance to the search. As a result, this means that the irrelevant, from a search marketing perspective, activity of link building, creating pages of lists i.e. keywords, for the sake of a high Google search ranking is now redundant. In turn this also means that ‘content for contents sake’ is dead too. Distinctive, credible and relevant messages are taking its place. So the growing range of social media from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, require understanding. So understand customers, and their behaviour, before mining.

The marketing director must champion creativity

Recognising that these new offers are simply new media channels means that marketing thinking is more important than ever. To rise above the operational hum-drum and relegation of content to a handful of keywords. Content has to become creative. In that simple sentence is a dilemma for the marketing director as the agencies providing ‘search’ marketing be it ‘pay-per-click ‘, ‘search engine optimisation’ and now ‘social media’ are all ill-equipped to be ‘creative’. The challenge for the marketing director is to embrace all these media and thus design and ‘brand’ platforms and pages to cut-through and appeal.

Also manage digital specialists

Specialist digital marketing agencies offer technical platform expertise but not necessarily strategic and message proficiency. However, they are in danger of being left behind, limited in their appreciation of how what they do fits in and inter-relates to marketing world. In particular, this is compounded by zero appreciation of the brand and the differentiation required. Consequently, the marketing director must recognise the shifts in media platforms and where agency technical limitations lie.  The marketing director must therefore fill the gap, champion creativity and lead the brand in all that (s)he does.

Plan your marketing not just digital marketing

It is not only in the message and media platform that the digital world has changed. Let us think about media planning. At the Marketing Society conference 2013, Chairman of WPP Group, Martin Sorrell gave the best rational for his giant agency group yet… ‘We remain committed to being ‘media neutral’ (2). The aim of media neutrality is to select the most cost-effective media to deliver the relevant message to the specific audience at the right time. While this is a vital function of marketing, it is also more relevant than ever.

Marketing: The New Digital Marketing
Tim Arnold and Guy Tomlinson, authors of The Marketing Director’s Handbook. Chapter 31 Managing Digital Marketing is available in digital form.

In selling their media platforms to advertisers, agencies and media alike are not unnaturally using data, big data. However, big data only make it doable as long as it is the right data. So now with a customer relationship management platform like Marketo (3), the right data can be captured and marketing communications integrated.

Put customers first

The customer continues to drives all we do in marketing. The fact that media is in customers’ hands, not the hands of media owners, also means more complex cause and effect relationships. So marketers must understand these morays and react accordingly. From apps for specific brand and product messages: activities to interact and engage social communities: the blending of blog, forum, network, web site. All amplified by text and tweet. All thus puts renewed emphasis on planning. As a result, media planning should take place in the context of all marketing, not in isolation. In order to build a media matrix that meets the needs of your brands, and only your brands, disavowing the numbers of each individual medium.

The challenge for the marketing director is therefore to understand all customer groups. Also the customer’s journey to discover and build strong brand relationships. This means being aware of how they discover, and use brands, and in particular, their thoughts and feelings at each stage. This is not a phrase we in marketing should ever forget!  Through ALL channels. Phones, iPads and screens. From adaptive responsive web sites, viral this or that, to commercials that recognise fast forwarding, to multi-tasking using a phone or tablet whilst watching TV, to …. you name it. As a result you can choose the most cost-effective combination of messages and media. And thus better persuade and boost sales and profitability.

Marketing Inspiration

  1. Digital marketing is moving back to the marketing function. While the role of the marketing director is always to direct marketing, there has never been a more important time to be a strategic marketer.
  2. Examine the role of your agencies; also the way your organisation develops both brand and creative consumer messages and exploits new opportunities.
  3. Embrace change, there’s more to come …  search fragmentation, specific search media, more miniaturisation, wearable technology, radio frequency identification (RFID) (products with embedded data), and also multi-platform management.

Managing Digital Marketing, new Chapter 31 of The Marketing Director’s Handbook is available in digital form.


(1). A decade of digital dependency, OFCOM August 2018

(2). Martin Sorrell, Speech to the Marketing Society 2013

(3). Marketo marketing automation software

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.


(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.

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.

Marketing Technology; 3D TV At Home – Honey, You Cannot Be Serious?

Marketing new technology | 3D television - how it works

Marketing technology requires imagination

The Polar Express (2004) Click to view 2D trailer
The Polar Express (2004) Click to view the 2D trailer

So imagine riding a roller coaster.  That’s how viewing The Polar Express on a 3D cinema screen felt as the train sped through gorges and swayed over mountains en route to the North Pole.  And hear the screams and feel the fear as several hundred rats surge over the edge of a stage and towards you in Disney theme park’s showing of Honey, I Shrunk the Audience.

Will 3D TV be a heart-pounding experience like 3D cinema?

3D tv trials have already taken place in the UK, Japan, and Brazil (among others). And you may have your own views….

Marketing technology is difficult. Much fails. So how do you mitigate the risk of failure? It is important to think from the audience pint of view, and consider their needs, and try and fast forward into the future.

Potential barriers and drivers to 3D TV?

1. Wearing nerdy glasses :

Stereoscopy is the most widely accepted method for recording and delivering 3D video. This requires capturing stereo images in the right place to show convincing scene depth. The images are then coded for broadcast and viewing. In the UK, Sky used alternate lines of pixels for transmission. However, at the low-cost end of the spectrum, viewing with polarised glasses provides a work-around. Wearing glasses is a bit of a hassle and a tad nerdy. Viewing ideally requires purpose-built 3D televisions.

3D television - the technical bit simplified
3D television – the technical bit simplified

2. Access and Cost :

In the UK, Sky initially used their existing HD infrastructure to access some 1.6m+ homes (Oct 2009) with compatible set-top boxes though the compromise remained, to wear glasses. However, creating new 3D compatible tvs obviate the need for glasses. Thus far, several manufacturers have started producing sets with autostereoscopic displays. However, these are higher cost, and high cost is a barrier to demand.

3. Risk of technology redundancy :

The first tv sets require users to wear glasses before autostereoscopic screens become available. Further, 3D blu-ray and 3D tv broadcasts are likely to use different technologies. This means that standardisation or multiple technologies will needed within tv receivers to allow viewing of both blu-ray dvds and tv broadcasts on the same tv. Thus there is a high probability of technology redundancy. While this may not be an issue for early adopters it is a barrier to attract the masses.

4. Safety :

Watching 3D movies risks stomach churn. Audience trials are important to understand potential issues. Beyond this, clear guidance and reassurance is important to allay potential fears.

5. Ease of use :

The more complicated a system is to use, the greater the barrier to view. Therefore, easy-to-use and fool-proof equipment, or easy-to-plug-in add-ons to current equipment, will maximise viewing.

6. Experiential benefits :

So will the quality of the experience outweight the disadvantages? In the UK, the chief broadcast engineer at BSkyB, Chris Johns suggests that 3D could herald a step change in the same way that colour did versus black and white.

However, offering features rather than tangible benefits is a common error in technology marketing. Further, the demise of Betamax and the original BSB digital broadcasting company suggest that ‘quality’ is subjective, and does not necessarily ‘sell’.

The programme and film makers are key to delivering quality too. But what is quality? Watching a newsreader in 3D is unlikely to be as compelling as ducking out-of-the-way when a football  hurtles towards you.

The challenge is also to find which genres and experiences work in 3D, and both draw, and retain audiences. The movie makers already plan a series of 3D films.  Sometimes audiences will wish to ride a roller coaster!

Technology Marketing Inspiration

1. The difficulty and trap with marketing technology is often that technology is often a collection of features trying to meet a need. Thus the most common reason new technology fails is because it fails to meet a need. Most probably because the need simply doesn’t exist.  Thus if the need doesn’t exist, you need to figure how to create a need. So use marketing research to understand audience needs, and anticipate drivers and barriers to buy. Also how to turn the need to a ‘want’. Some audiences no doubt want to ride a roller coaster! But perhaps not every day.

2. There will always be some who fear new technology. So to kick-start demand, first, identify potential early adopters, and focus your marketing on them.

3. Understand drivers and barriers to purchasing and usage. And then communicate the benefits of the new technology while also addressing potential fears. Don’t underestimate the fears, they are often entrenched in past usage behaviour. And then work hard to over-come the barriers and solicit trial. For example, by providing free trial experiences. Use the trial experiences to overcome barriers too : such as affordability, access issues and thus better help potential customers weigh-up the benefits for themselves.

4. Plan for the long-term. The trouble with marketing technology is potential product redundancy, and failure to consider where demand comes from, a competitor or …? So fast forward into the future. Consider how technology might or might not evolve, and consider segments, and develop marketing scenarios, beyond an initial product launch. By imagining the future and planning for the future today will help you grow and lead the market. Also to maximise both short and long-term market share.

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 ( 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 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 (, your influence (, mentions ( and embedded link clicks ( 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.


  1. Top 50 Twitter followers
  2. Twitter demographics