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  • feedwordpress 21:26:14 on 2016/11/29 Permalink
    Tags: , , Social Business,   

    Six Near-term Trends Influencing The Business of Marketing 

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    If you’ve come here looking for the latest thinking on virtual reality, drones and autonomous driving—you’ve come to the wrong place. Marketers are an interesting bunch—we pride ourselves on “being in the know”, with some good reason… Part of our jobs are to stay one step ahead of the game so we are better prepared for the changes that inevitably effect the business of our industry. But in the pursuit of staying ahead of future trends—we often overlook massive shifts that need to be operationalized over the next five years, if not decade. In the pursuit of keeping our eye on the ball—I’ve identified six near term trends influencing the business of marketing:

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    From Media Channels To Media Ecosystem 
    Blame Digital. Just when we were getting used to shifting efforts and dollars to reflect not only print, television, radio and the internet—the internet itself has fragmented into a million tiny little pieces which blur the lines between paid, owned, earned and even social when it comes to dollar spend—and that’s not even getting into how it all get’s measured. Case in point—in the past year, MTV has seen it’s traditional television viewership of the Video Music Awards decline 34%. However if you look closely at the numbers, digital views including Facebook Live Streaming increased 70%. The problem here? MTV has yet to monetize the ever fragmented and complex digital media ecosystem and still relies on traditional TV advertisers to make money.

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    This makes the jobs of the media creators, buyers, sellers and strategists, well—complicated. Marketers are reluctant to embrace this complexity in their need to reach the largest and most targeted audiences they can. But in the near term—this complexity must be dealt with by diving deeper into digital and re-defining how, where and when dollars are spent within the complete media ecosystem vs. the easiest parts of it to put spend against.

    From Text That Tells To Visuals That Show
    The entire Web is being re-built for visual and video content. Before you dismiss this as “obvious”—we must take into account that the previous and dominant version of the Internet became mainstream with the advent of Google’s search engine and search was and to some extent still is a game of text, meta tags, keywords and text based organic content popularity. Now let’s look at demographics: Boomers, and GenX grew up on traditional literacy in the written word. Millennials and GenZ are growing up on what I call “visual literacy” which is accentuated by platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube which are video and visual dominated as opposed to text driven.

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    It is this visual literacy combined with the changing face of how we not only search for but receive content which is changing before our very eyes. marketers have spent years perfecting their Keywords and then finding ways to get text based links to their written content shared on social media but increasingly it’s video that gets shared directly through a multitude of apps that is becoming the dominant social currency. Brands have yet to master modern forms of video and visual storytelling as even the rules are changing in this space. Snapchat for example favors short, compelling vertical video formats which tend to perform well. For marketers—many who built their craft on taglines or standard 30 second television commercials—these forms of video content (not ads) are foreign and still largely untapped. Marketers will need to re-think video, visual storytelling and the production of these things from the ground up in this new world if they are to remain relevant.

    From Mobile Last To Mobile First
    We take for granted that Facebook is one of the most popular apps in the world and most of us access it from our mobile devices. But in the early days of Facebook—there was a time that they found themselves on the defense when it came to mobile and believe it or not—they actually didn’t get it. In less than a year—they transformed themselves into a “mobile first” company from the top down and had some of the most talented developers in the world at their disposal to see this transformation through. Unfortunately, even the world’s biggest and most resourceful brands and agencies do not have these resources nor the imperative to re-invent their organizations to think, act, and operate within the same context as their mobile consumers, customers and employees.

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    Thanks to Google, marketers have good reason to prioritize mobile development as their way forward since Google actually dings Websites that they deem are not responsive or functional in the mobile environment. But the shift to mobile is much more than making our Websites mobile friendly. It means we need to intimately understand how our audiences want to consume, create, share and interact with our brands. It’s one of the leading reasons we’ve seen customers shift to expressing their dissatisfaction about a brand experience or service publicly—they have a megaphone in their pocket at all times. We’ve done a disservice to our industry by treating mobile as a “duh”—it requires a complete transformation in many ways due to its impact on our daily behaviors. Facebook had it right—brands and agencies should do the same.

    From Reliance On Media Companies To Being Your Own Media Company
    “Publishing Is The New Marketing”. Sounds good—easier said than done. But the reality is that thanks to social media—most marketers are already in the business of publishing whether they know it or not. Got a brand presence on Facebook or YouTube? Congratulations, you’re in the content business. The problem however is that most content isn’t very good and so marketers find themselves solving the wrong problem.

    It’s not about creating content as much as it is about cultivating targeted and high quality audiences who want to hear from you again and again.

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    In the pursuit of cultivating quality audiences who not only are willing to consume a brand’s content but want to share and potentially co-create with the brand, marketers must understand how to engage with audiences not only during their “tentpole” campaigns but daily, weekly. monthly and quarterly. This is where the dynamics of marketing and publishing mix and brands are still scrambling to figure out how to do this.

    From Ad-Hoc Influencer Engagement To Integrated Influence Marketing 
    When CBS 60 Minutes does a feature on Influencer Marketing—you know it’s not fleeting trend anymore. However this space as familiar as it seems is new territory for marketers. Unlike traditional celebrities—most of these cultural influencers such as social media stars and Youtubers are creators who have built their OWN audiences using their OWN channels. So to protect their reputations with their audience—their preference is to collaborate and co-create with brands as opposed to endorse and act as spokespeople the way traditional celebrities have always done.

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    In addition—most brands are currently treating these kinds of partnerships as one-offs or ad-hoc engagements vs. re-thinking how they interface not only with cultural influencers but ALL influencers who often play off each other when it comes to reaching mass audiences often times through our peers. It will take years for marketers to fully evolve and build the process to support this in a much more integrated and scalable fashion beyond one off campaigns and programs. This entire space is still in its infancy.

    From Brand Value Proposition To Brand Values
    Lock yourself in a room with the most seasoned and senior marketing executives and they will nod their heads when presented with research that reflects the purchase habits of millennials, especially one key shift—millennials are often influenced not only by the products, services and “value proposition” of the brands they buy from—they are also curious and care about how the brand acts, how it participates and what it “stands for” in a societal context. If they feel like the brand is aligned with some or all of their own personal values—these influence behaviors from purchase through to loyalty. My Employer (Edelman) produced research that most consumers are “involved” with brands but are open to “commitment”. And in many cases, being committed goes beyond traditional value proposition attributes such as quality, convenience and price.

    Screen Shot 2016-11-29 at 3.22.16 PMThe premise seems deceptively simple. Many brands understand this and in response have gone out of their way to show how they are “going green” or “doing good”—often through corporate channels that are responsible for these kinds of messages. But this shift goes beyond messages and block and tackle corporate communications. Marketers have mastered the art and science of building brands in the hearts and minds of consumers by balancing their emotional and rational needs. Products had to show they would actually work but the most successful brands went further and endeared themselves to consumers through appealing to their emotions (Think Nike—Just Do It)

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    Thanks largely to millennials—this is no longer enough. Marketers need to re-examine their value proposition and ask themselves if their brand’s “values” are clearly articulated and if their actions, marketing and every touchpoint with a consumer and customer backs this up. It goes beyond satisfying rational and emotional needs but adding the third dimension of “societal” but above all else—all three dimensions need to be true to the brand and supported by proof points. This becomes not only the job of the chief communications officer and CEO but the CEO, CMO and CEO working in tandem. Few brands have been able to successfully “stand for something” because it takes a village to pull this off right and in line with the brand values. But whether it’s #Optoutside or #LikeAGirl—when done authentically, it resonates.

    If you’ve gotten this far, than you’re probably thinking that none of the above is new to you. And that’s the point—it isn’t. But the marketing industry has yet to fully make the needed shifts in most or nearly all of the above trends based on my observations and in working directly with clients. These trends each bring with them great opportunities but require companies whether brands or agencies to evolve priorities, re-evaluate staff and agency mix and place bets in areas that are still developing or require extra effort to measure. They may not be as sexy as virtual reality or cars which drive themselves—but in the next five or so years, it is how well we operationalize against these trends that may benefit marketers most in the near future.

  • feedwordpress 02:39:21 on 2014/10/27 Permalink
    Tags: , , , Social Business   

    Societal: The Third Dimension Of Modern Day Brand Building 

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    I started writing this blog back in 2006 and the namesake was completely intentional. "Logic+Emotion" symbolizes the way we've been building brands for the past sixty plus years. Marketers have always known that they have to reach people emotionally in order to capture their attention. We're emotional beings by design and often times make decisions based on how we feel. Our emotions serve as clues that explain our behaviors. We buy clothes because we need them—but the styles and brands we choose have more to do with our psycology than the basic need we must fill. 

    In the same breath we have brains, not just hearts. There is always a voice telling us that we need to check some boxes before making a decision. Features, benefits, specs—these are all reasons to believe the decisions we are making are right. Together, rational and emotional were the yin and yang of building brands and differentiating from competitors. 

    Edelman's 2014 Brandshare study, however begins to validate what many of us have already begun suspecting over the past few years—that brands aren't only built but they are preserved and must evolve along with highly empowered consumers who now make decisions with not only their hearts and brains but also their conscience. We discovered that meeting consumers rational and emotional needs are a good start—but there's a third dimension we need to now consider, and we are calling it "societal". 

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    In fact, we looked at meeting consumers needs based across five key KPIs (Purchase, Recommend, Defend, Share Personal Info & Share Brand Content) and "Societal" actually corresponded more strongly with "Share Personal Info and Share Brand Content"—two KPIs that we think are becoming increasingly important for brands and the marketers who seek to obtain data from consumers while hoping they become a human distribution network via social, e-mail and other peer to peer channels. 

    Last week while discussing Brandshare findings, I could not help but recall how I myself shared a news story about how *Microsoft was sharing its cloud infrastructure as part of the effort to combat the Ebola Virus. I was doing exactly what the data above shows—sharing a brand's story that was meaningfully attaching itself to a societal issue. The same week Microsoft reported stronger than expected earnings as well. A brand that operates in the societal dimension does not equate to a brand that doesn't profit. As we've stated in Brandshare, the value exchange brands and consumers ideally have is based on mutual benefit and gain. 

    But our assessment is to not focus on one of the three need states over the other. When consumers needs are met rationally, emotionally and societally—a brand has the most chance of seeing a "lift" in how meeting those needs correlates to the KPIs we outline in the report. We think this is significant and if the trend continues, brands will have to take a second look at their values built meeting on emotional and rational needs and discern if and how societal fits into the core of the brand's DNA.

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    *Microsoft is an Edelman client

  • feedwordpress 02:18:05 on 2014/05/05 Permalink
    Tags: , , , Social Business   

    Why It’s Time To Re-Think Real-Time 

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    We can do better. 

    Recently, I attended an industry roundtable alongside a variety of marketers from different industries, all on the brand side. These are smart and accomplished individuals who gathered together to discuss real time marketing and what it means for their organizations. When asked what their favorite example of real time marketing was—most deferred to the obvious answer: Oreo's "dunk in the dark!" With much respect to the brand that got the real time conversation started—it's time to move on.

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    From Real Time Marketing to Building Responsive Brands
    Real-time marketing is indeed a real thing, but we're going to have to stop chasing our own version of the Oreo moment if we're going to make progress in this area. First we have to really get our heads wrapped around the foundation to understand what we're actually trying to do—and what we're trying to do is build brands differently. We essentially have two tools at our disposal: content and engagement. This is where many of us miss the mark. We underestimate how difficult it is to use these tools. A recent article featuring Coke's content efforts underscores how arduous a task it is for a brand and organization to create, curate and publish a regular stream of valuable content. In the race to real-time, we've over simplified this. Secondly—when, how, why and how often a brand engages has become an art and science. The NYPD learned this lesson the hard way when they wanted to simply promote their cause. 

    Re-Thinking Our Core Teams
    Before we go any further down the rabbit hole of real time marketing, we must take into account that the core team needed to actually take on the role of planning & producing content as well as partnering with third parties and coordinating media purchases looks a little differently than the traditional core teams whether it's an advertising model or other. Editorial sensibilities must be combined with creative instincts and craft. Social aptitude must be core to engagement strategies and tactics. Media spend is increasingly becoming difficult to separate out as it becomes part of the content strategy and analytics must be more agile than ever. 

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    Enter The Content Strategist
    Content strategy or content marketing for that matter isn't new—but there aren't exactly thousands of content strategists with years of experience under their belts sitting around waiting to take their rightful position as key member of today's responsive brand building team. Content strategists will also look differently from how they may have operated in the past with a holistic view of the way content can live, breath and flow across paid, owned, earned and shared properties and media. They will need to partner closely with media counterparts and be intimately involved in the connections planning. 

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    Having put this thinking forward—there's much to be said about in regards to culture, talent and pure ingenuity. When it was my turn to say what my favorite example of "real time marketing was", I gave a recent client example because I was close to it. If I had the chance to answer again—I would have said Honey Maid. Take a look—now that's a responsive brand. 

  • feedwordpress 02:59:03 on 2014/04/28 Permalink
    Tags: , , Customer Experience, Social Business, Social Business Design   

    Social Business Isn’t Dead—It’s Just Connected 

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    Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated. 
    ~Mark Twain.

    This isn't a post about social business—it's about doing business in a connected age, and this is an important distinction. Let me take a step back for a moment. In April 2009, exactly five years ago I took a chance and joined a start up that didn't have a name at the time and only a handful of employees. That start-up ended up being called Dachis Group, which was recently acquired by SaaS platform Sprinklr. There was a single reason I joined the emerging organization in pre-infancy. Jeff Dachis, who co-founded Razorfish—one of the original digital agencies said the following sequence of words which I had never heard before, and deeply resonated with me. 

    Social Business Design

    While my time with the start-up was brief, I never wavered from the belief that was core to what social business stood for. Everything had changed, and while we were a handful of true believers at the time, we all instinctively knew that the way business functioned was going to be impacted for the years to come. Now fast-forward five years later...

    I touch a lot of clients and initiatives and our engagements can range from producing a regular and relevant stream of content for our client's brands to working side by side with them to figure out the infrastructure needed to support different forms of engagement with a variety of stakeholders. I had been spending some time recently on our beta version of "Dairy Hub"—one of the latest manifestations of evolution we've undertaken with our willing parters of the US dairy industry and it dawned upon me this is just scratching the surface of what we used to call social business. And looking forward, it's simply how all business will operate in one way or another (many are well on their way). 

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    However, the "Dairy Hub" alone isn't social business—it's one of many initiatives which were driven by a strategy and vision to bring the industry together and create value for a variety of stakeholders. The real story behind the the evolution had more to do with how we collaborated with the CEO of DMI and his team and aligning their efforts as well as ours over the years. It's the heavy lifting stuff you don't always hear about but is always necessary for real change to occur. It takes years. 

    More on Dairy another time—back to doing business in a connected age. Below are a few areas which are highly relevant to how business needs to continue to change moving forward. They are how...

    The Cloud Connects Us
    Cloud technologies are eliminating the need for consumers and enterprises to store massive amounts of data by themselves through offering up an infrastructure which allows businesses to set up shop virtually overnight and empowers data sharing like we've never seen before. It's also potentially a security nightmare. 

    Content Connects Us
    As advertising becomes gradually easier to ignore or skip—brands are under pressure to leverage all forms of content which either educate, inform or entertain us. Never have brands had to work so hard to get their target audience to pay attention to them. 

    Mobility Connects Us
    Pay close attention to Facebook's strategy of unbundling the Facebook experience into an ecosystem of mobile first experiences. Mobility is on it's way to becoming the dominant way people interact with technology. Facebook understands this, having learned the hard way originally putting the desktop experience before mobile.

    Sharing Connects Us
    It's been described as the sharing or collaborative economy, but it's yet another way that connecting is changing the face of how we want to exchange goods and services. E-commerce allowed us to buy new or used—now we can connect to those who can help us get our needs met perhaps without actually buying anything. 
    The thing that's driving massive change in organizations today is the fact that we've become connected in a number of ways that haven't existed in the past. It's bigger than social. It's bigger than mobile. It's bigger than wearables. And it will take years to work through as connections empower individuals across the board. 

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