Tag Archives: marketing

Creativity alive and well in print advertising – Blackberry

It’s rare that press advertising wows me with its creativity these days, but Blackberry’s ad in today’s Daily Telegraph really impressed me.

Promoting the ‘Time Shift’ functionality of the new Z10, the ad appears on the face of it to be a standard full-page press ad…

Blackberry press ad for Z10

…until it becomes clear that there is a half page covering a second part of the 1.5 page spread, which reveals as below:

Blackberry press ad for Z10

There’s no doubt that Blackberry have a huge task ahead of them to catch up with the likes of Apple and Samsung when it comes to smartphone market share, but with innovative ways of promoting innovative features such as this, I wouldn’t write them off just yet.

Nice work.

What’s your career game plan?

I was recently interviewed by B2B Marketing Magazine for a feature they ran in the January 2013 issue, entitled “Game Plan”. For those of you that aren’t subscribers to the magazine, I’ve included the article on my Slideshare account, embedded below with kind permission of B2B Marketing.

If you’re in B2B Marketing and not already a subscriber, I’d strongly recommend checking out the benefits of B2B Marketing membership. The article is also now live on the B2B Marketing Knowledge Bank, where you can see lots of other useful articles.

What’s your career game plan for 2013? How will you drive your career forward by implementing a personal action plan? What have you found to be effective in your own career to date? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Giving marketing a rebrand- step 3

Ivory Towers

Ivory Towers (Photo credit: James F Clay)

In previous posts on the theme of ‘giving marketing a rebrand’, I have suggested a number of steps marketers can take to raise their profile, credibility and effectiveness. I have called for them to Fight the Fluff and Manage the Magpie.

In this third and final post in the series, I feel it’s time to Trash the Tower.

Marketers are sometimes perceived by other functions as living in an Ivory Tower which, according to Wikipedia, is a place “where intellectuals engage in pursuits that are disconnected from the practical concerns of everyday life”.

Sometimes we are worthy of the ‘ivory tower’ perception because we have become internally focused and disconnected from the customer. Sometimes workload and organisational politics conspire to make it harder than it should be to spend more time with front line staff and customers, but how else will we get to hear firsthand accounts of how the products and services we are marketing solve (or cause) customer problems?

Does this sound familiar? If so, when was the last time you were able to escape the confines of the head office ivory tower and hear the customer’s voice at firsthand?

And I mean truly firsthand, not sitting through a 72 slide debrief on ‘wave 58′ of the latest customer satisfaction survey (showing a 3% improvement from ‘wave 57′ but with a +/- 5% margin of error!).

Here are three practical ways in which you can reconnect with everyday life in your customer’s world and learn some actionable insights to improve their experience:

  1. undertake regular customer site visits with front line staff and witness firsthand how your product or service is used in their business – look for new ways in which you can tell these stories to prospective customers
  2. listen to customer calls in contact or service centres – your colleagues in these teams have more experience of the day to day client experience than most in the organisation, so make sure you tap into it when developing new initiatives and campaigns
  3. read the 10/20/50 most recent customer complaints – look for emerging patterns and identify an issue you can own and solve, even if this means stepping outside of your organisational silo to do so

How do you gain actionable insights in your team? What are your best practice tips for getting out of the ivory tower and listening to the customer? Where have you seen innovative techniques employed that you wouldn’t expect to see being led by a marketing team?

Giving marketing a rebrand- step 2

Last week’s post on giving marketing a rebrand coincided with a piece on a similar theme in Marketing Week and was picked up and included in their Storify.

I suggested that there are three steps marketers can take to raise their profile, credibility and effectiveness. Step 1 called on them to Fight The Fluff.

English: Oriental Magpie Robin മലയാളം: മണ്ണാത്...

Image via Wikipedia

In Step 2, I’m suggesting that marketers should Manage the Magpie.Some are afflicted by the desire for the latest shiny new thing, whether it’s the latest technology gadget, social media platform or marketing technique. With advances in technology disrupting many traditional business models, there’s no doubt it’s an incredibly exciting time to be in business, never mind marketing.

Yet for many, this excitement causes a common sense bypass! Some are blinded by the brightness of the new thing, whilst others jump onto the ‘me too’ bandwagon to seek the reassurance that if other/bigger/more interesting brands are doing something, so should we.

Expectations and excitement skyrocket as early successes from case studies (most likely from outside your sector and country, but don’t let details like that get in the way) start to emerge as ‘proof’ that the cynical doubters are wrong. But of course what goes up must come down and when the glitter fades and the post-hysteria hangover kicks in, you wake up in what Gartner call the ‘trough of disillusionment’.

Which is why, more than ever before, marketers need to be better at managing the magpie within themselves and others. They should make a focused, objective and dispassionate assessment before leaping in. Yes be curious. Absolutely be alert to changing trends. But always be asking ‘how will this improve the customer experience’.

To put an objective structure around your thinking, try the following

  1. build an informal, cross-functional group from sales, marketing and operations so that you can draw upon the wider experience in the business when a shiny new thing comes along
  2. get them to help you define at least three ways in which it will measurably improve the customer experience.
  3. the harder you find this, the easier the decision not to jump on

Do you look before you leap onto the latest shiny new bandwagon? How do you decide which new technologies to adopt and at what speed? Or maybe you work for a magpie and have some coping mechanisms to share here?

Giving marketing a rebrand- step 1

This is the first in a series of three posts on a subject very close to my heart, ‘giving marketing a rebrand’, where I’d like to offer three steps which marketers can take to raise their profile, credibility and effectiveness when faced with cynical non-believers.

Step 1- Fight the Fluff

Marketing is too fluffy and doesn’t add any real value to the business.

English: Marshmellow fluff

Image via Wikipedia

Sound familiar? Has your marketing function been referred to as the ‘brochure and brolly’ team? The colouring-in department? I’ve heard all of these and worse, so why do marketers attract this perception?

A common trap is that some marketing people focus on outputs that matter to the marketing team rather than outcomes that matter to the business. Who has ever won a piece of new business because the logo is exactly 7mm away from the top right of the brochure? Or grown market share purely thanks to the consistency of the secondary colour palette in PowerPoint decks? Your customers don’t notice or care about this stuff, so why should you?

As experts in brand management, isn’t it time we applied this knowledge to develop our personal brand and reposition that of our profession, rather than obsessing over minutiae that purely serves to reinforce the stereotype?

Top tips for fighting the fluff

  1. Begin with becoming obsessively curious about the wider business performance and how marketing can drive or influence it.
  2. Celebrate new customer wins within your team and make sure every one of them understands the key financials.
  3. Make a public commitment to link your team’s outputs to directly driving these business outcomes.

I’ll be sharing steps 2 and 3 in subsequent posts, but in the meantime I’d love to hear your thoughts. What has driven you to despair over the ‘fluffy’ perception of marketing, and what steps have you taken to overcome it?

Social Media Benchmark

I was one of about 250 marketers that attended the Chartered Institute of Marketing‘s launch of the Social Media Benchmark research at Bloomberg’s impressive offices in Finsbury Square this week.

This is the latest in a number of excellent research studies launched by the Chartered Institute of Marketing in recent years, led by Thomas Brown, Head of Insights at CIM.

Assembling an impressive panel of senior players from LinkedIn, YouTube and Skype, and hosted by Manus Cranny from Bloomberg TV, the audience were given a double-act walk through of the top-level findings by Thomas and Tara Beard-Knowland from ASI, Ipsos Mori.

The full report is due out in a few weeks but here are some of the headline statistics:

  • 80% of marketers know they need a social media strategy, yet only 7% are tracking the results
  • In 40-50% of businesses, marketing did not own the official channel for Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn (PR team seemed the other most common owner)
  • The number of marketers that rated their social media activities as ‘not at all effective’ was spread across a range: 24% (Twitter) 33% (Facebook) 37% (LinkedIn) 44% (YouTube).
  • Whilst about half of businesses surveyed planned to invest in training their current people to improve social media skills and competencies in 2012, about a quarter had no plans at all.

I look forward to poring over the detail when the report is published, but I left the event thinking that survey respondents are either:

  1. still in complete denial/ignorance of the importance of measuring the effectiveness of the tools they are using, and why (I believe this a broader issue than social media), OR
  2. they are unashamedly still in experimental mode, adopting the Google approach of “test and iterate” mentioned by Thomas in his closing summary

It’s hard to say for sure without the detailed findings, but I suspect there’s a bit of both.

However, with a social media landscape that continues to evolve and change almost daily, the important thing is that the CIM is leading the debate from centre stage.

Thank you and well done.

Social Media Awards Prediction: O2 Santa

It’s great to end the year with a brilliant social media campaign courtesy of the guys at O2 and Hope & Glory.

I first saw this via a tweet from @mashbusiness:

For those of you not familiar with the campaign, I’ll let the O2 Santa explain here:

It looks like almost 1,000 videos were personalised within the week-long campaign, and I can’t wait to see the stats on the total number of views, shares and retweets this created.

Having had my own personalised video recorded to convince my childhood best friend that Santa really does exist, I can say that this was an excellent piece of work, brilliantly executed:

Within 24 hours I had received a tweet telling me that my video was ready for viewing.

Personalisation + Social interaction + Seasonal appeal= [surely] award-winning campaign.

Well done to all involved.

Sage: Trade Show Marketing how it should be done

I was at the Business Start-Up Show recently, a trade show with seminars and over 300 exhibitors targeting the small and start-up business market. I stopped by a number of stands that day, and although I was there as a ‘punter’, I couldn’t help but keep putting my B2B Marketing hat back on to critique their performance.

One business that stood out as the most impressive that day has to be Sage. As you’ll see below, from a delegate perspective they were excellent, but as a B2B Marketer myself, you could tell they had a clear and structured plan for engaging with their audience before, during and after the show:

Before:

I had pre-registered for the Business Planning Workshop that Sage were running as part of the extensive seminar programme. I was booked onto the 10.30am slot, on the first day of the show.

I got to Earls Court early, but had to take a phone call that I didn’t want to take in a queue of people, so was only able to join the substantial queue at 09.45, with doors opening at 10.00.

By about 10.15 it became clear that the queue wasn’t moving (except in length) and I was hoping that someone inside was listening when I tweeted:

Clearly, the marketing team at Sage were geared up for engaging with customers and prospects, and tweeted back, which started a conversation with the brand before I had even got into the building.

Fortunately, soon after, common sense prevailed and the organisers started letting pre-registered delegates through en masse without signing-in. I managed to get through to the Sage stand where I was met with a friendly smile and a member of staff that personally escorted me to the Business Planning Workshop, which was about to commence.

During:

The workshop was very useful, and with free planning software as a giveaway, I definitely wanted to find out more about what Sage offered as I had traditionally associated them with accounting software.

Their exhibition space was well laid out, open and inviting. There were well signposted zones for information on various product types, and I found the people friendly, knowledgeable and engaging.

Sage stand at Business Start Up 2011, Earls CourtSage stand at Business Start Up 2011, Earls Court (2)I received a demo on Sage Act! from a member of staff who was extremely patient as he ran through the demo and answered my questions.

It would have been the easiest thing in the world to push for a sale, after a 40 minute demo, but it felt to me like the strategy for the day was engagement and lead generation. I happily gave my contact details and agreed to receive a follow-up.

After visiting maybe a dozen or so other stands (and walking past all others), most appeared to lack any kind of clear strategy.

So impressed was I with my Sage experience, that on the way out, I tweeted the following, which was amplified across the business show audience by 6 retweets:

After:

A day or two later, I got a follow-up email from someone introducing themselves as my account manager, with their contact details should I have any other questions.

A couple of weeks on, I received the attached follow-up email to invite me to a webinar, the creative linking back to the exhibition and signposting a discount offer unique to attendees of the show.

Screen grab of Sage email follow-up, including show-specific discount offer

I signed up for the webinar, and had another demo today. For me, the picture is complete and I now have all the information I need and will be buying Sage Act! at some point soon.

Get a life! Why are you reviewing a trade show?!

All too often in my experience, exhibitions are criticised as a waste of money, time or both. From what I saw on the day, I’m sure for many exhibitors this was true.

However, as Sage have shown, the key to successful exhibition marketing is to have a strategy for engaging with your customers and prospects Before, During and After the show, exhibition or event.

Well done Sage, and thanks for supplying the photos of the exhibition stand and agreeing for their use in this post.

What do you think? Are you in sales or marketing and have any trade show marketing tips to share? How does your business maximise the return on investment from trade shows? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Marketing lessons from Benny Hill?

Actor Benny Hill
Image via Wikipedia

It’s not often that Benny Hill is quoted in management or marketing textbooks, but this short clip highlights some of the dangers in making sweeping assumptions, and still makes me smile even today.

I come across many young people who are thinking of starting out in business through my work as a volunteer Business Mentor with the Prince’s Trust. We work with them through the Exploring Enterprise Programme to help them make sure there’s a market for the product or service they are looking to sell through their business.

The Market Research Society defines research as

“one of the most useful tools in business, any business. It is the way in which organisations find out what their customers and potential customers need, want and care about.”

Good business and marketing decisions come from good insight- developing a solid and compelling fact base about your target customer that allows you to understand their needs and wants better than anyone else. “Gut feel” is great, but any business that runs on this alone is a risky one in my opinion.

As it’s the weekend and the sun’s shining, I’ll hand over to Benny, to explain the dangers of assumption…

Has the world gone QRazy?

A giant QR Code linking to a website, to be re...

Image via Wikipedia

There’s been a common-sense bypass for many in the recent race to use QR Codes in marketing campaigns. Sadly, as is often the case in the profession I love, common business sense goes out of the window in the rush to implement the latest cool and shiny thing.

A recent article in Marketing Week revealed that only just over 1 in 10 consumers had used a QR code in the past, less than half of whom found them useful and would like to see them more widely available. Apathy was found to be a barrier to adoption, cited by 23% of respondents to the survey.

I know how they feel. In the right circumstances, for the right type of application, QR Codes have very interesting potential, but only if:

  1. The objective is to drive offline customers online for deeper brand engagement or to convert them (to sale, to registration, to download)
  2. There is a high penetration of smart phone owners amongst your target audience
  3. The placement of the code is conducive to easy/safe scanning and represents a better customer experience than responding via other channels

So, there are two recent examples that have left me scratching my head.

Firstly, my local authority  recently announced they are “trialling QR codes on our signs to keep people more informed about road works.” The facebook photo shows what appears to be a sheet of A4 paper sellotaped to a road sign.

I’d argue that the vast majority of people inconvenienced by road works are motorists. So how easy or safe is it to scan a QR code when driving, never mind how legal? A-ha, they’re one step ahead of me:

“The technology can only be used by pedestrians or cyclists, as users need to scan the code with their mobile phone, so it suits schemes like temporary pavement and cycleway closures.”

I’m not convinced.

Then I saw what appeared to be a poster ad for Investec Bank, who have for a number of years used a Zebra as part of their visual identity.

Closer inspection revealed that it was actually a poster for Intel under the “Visibly Smart” campaign, where a QR Code had been made to incorporate the Zebra’s eye. This would have made a great magazine ad creative…for Investec, but a roadside poster for Intel with an unscannable QR Code?

Do you have any examples of particularly good or bad practice in this area? Will we still be talking about QR Codes in 12 months time, or is this a fad for bored marketers with post-recession budget cuts and ‘free’ toys to play with?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.