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Inbound marketing Infographic (2013)

1 May

Dan Bosomworth of recently made some fundamental amends to an infographic he conceived last year, visualising the inbound marketing effect. It made me think how the world of content marketing has evolved in the past 12 months, and how digital and traditional (multi-channel) integration is inevitable more than ever before.

Inbound marketing 2012 Inbound marketing 2012

Here’s SI’s 2012 infographic on Inbound Marketing (a diagram I’ve referred to many times with my own clients): Here, we see a really sweet visualisation of how published content plays a key part in the inbound marketing effect – all the while ensuring that relevant listening tools are utilised properly to evaluate campaign effectiveness.

Inbound marketing 2013


Inbound marketing 2013

Moving a year on, Dan and the guys at SI have considered the obvious need to compliment published content with paid media. In this case, Dan highlights (in the ‘Tape Deck”, as he calls it) not only PPC, social, display and affiliate channels, but also ‘offline’ media as part and parcel of this driver. Naturally, these paid media options must drive the consumer to brands’ digital hub and I like the idea that offline (interruptive) media can be used to do this in more creative and tactical ways going forward. Equally, with the emergence of the likes of Tint (a new social media tool, designed to integrate all of your social platforms into your online hub), the ‘Owned Media’ element will play a crucial part in the evolution of content marketing strategy in the coming months; encouraging consumers to engage more fully with brands online.

Thanks to Dan for his continually inspiring infographics on this subject; you can read his blog about the new inbound marketing (2013) infographic here.

Brands and social media honesty

2 Nov brands and social honesty bodyform

I read a really interesting blog by a chap called Jonathan MacDonald the other day, as he discussed ‘The Fallacy of Social Media’.

What sparked his thinking was the recent video that Bodyform released as a response to a member of the public’s comment on Bodyform’s Facebook page.

At length, Jonathan discusses the validity of the video – and whether, as a creative piece, it has any real consumer engagement value – especially since the video is of an actress, purporting to be the ‘CEO of Bodyform’.

He wasn’t the only person to write about Bodyform’s video; in fact, it’s been well documented about featured in the majority of the marketing press – heralded as creative genius. In addition, many people have speculated whether the original Facebook posting (by a chap called ‘Richard’) was fake and part of the campaign.

All-in-all, Bodyform has created a great topic for discussion. On the one hand, the creative industry is congratulating them for a sweet idea – well scripted, well presented, simple and fun. The idea that the CEO of Bodyform would honestly and frankly refer to menstruation as a “crimson landslide” was certainly evocative (and honest). On the other hand, digital purists and marketers are bringing into question the manipulation of social media by brands, and whether brands using social media in such a way makes for an effective social media campaign.

For me, the ongoing use of brands of social media it comes down to three things:

  1. Are brands being honest and truthful when using social media?
  2. What (aside from an increase in sales) constitutes an effective social media campaign?

The essence of social media (in the context of brand interaction) is about brand loyalists sharing their views and opinions on brands/products. The issue is that many brands are still not getting the honesty factor and are still (as they’ve always done) considering ways to manipulate the social sphere. Sadly, this can be said across all digital channels, and I wonder whether that will ever fully change.

I’ve always believed that this arena will ultimately force brands to be honest and true. Don’t try to manipulate it, because you’ll be found out – and your #epicfail will be shared by countless consumers, at the click of a ‘like’ or a ‘share’.

Was Bodyform’s response funny? Oh yes it was. Was it honest? Sort of. I did enjoy it – as did 3 million other viewers. Great copywriting (and delivery) and certainly along the lines of what we’ve all been thinking over the decades of watching these ludicrous happy-go-lucky-menstrual-lady-solution ads.

So what’s the answer on this occasion? Perhaps, if the ACTUAL CEO of Bodyform had replied to Richard via Facebook directly and said something similar..? Perhaps that would’ve been just as shareable – and indeed honest.

In fact, it would’ve been truthful brand interaction with a consumer, via a social media channel. Which is what it’s all about and where the opportunity lies – isn’t it..?

Traditional and digital agency integration: adapt or die

1 Oct

I had a beer and chat with a specialist consultant, who is doing phenomenally well working with agencies, helping them integrate digital agency expertise into what we’d know as traditional marketing disciplinary departments (advertising, PR etc). We spent a great deal of our time together discussing the various pitfalls associated with this issue – and the nuances surrounding traditional and digital agency integration.

The conversation went along the lines of me expressing huge surprise that the agencies we discussed (some of them very large indeed) were having such a tough time properly integrating their traditional and digital creative propositions. In addition, my drinking partner pointed out that a lot more agencies are fearful of this issue than people in our industry are led to believe. Surprised? I was. To be clear, what he meant by this was that a great deal of agencies offering integrated traditional/digital services, are either doing it wrong or making it up as they go along (and subsequently struggling).

I freely admit that I/we had to take my own agency back to school for some serious re-education since setting up in late 2010. Specifically, this was in the areas of social commerce, inbound and content marketing. Whilst the agency has grown from strength-to-strength in terms of providing traditional creative solutions for brands, I’ve had to open my mind to the new possibilities available via the ever-changing landscape of digital (online) marketing and learn how best to offer an integrated online/offline portfolio of products to our clients. From a viewpoint that we needed to redesign a product offering that integrated our creative output with modern inbound marketing concepts.

I’m of the opinion that as long as agencies refer to their ‘online’ and ‘offline’ service lines as completely separate propositions and disciplines, and as long as they have teams for each, who don’t fully understand each others’ skill-sets, they put themselves in grave danger of being overtaken by the following:

  1. Traditional agencies that have not knee-jerkingly repositioned themselves as a ‘digital creative agency’, but have adapted their already strong creative output to include digital channels;
  2. Active and entrepreneurial digital agencies, whose entire business models have been built on rapid evolution and adaptability – thus they are well-placed to simply enhance their own propositions by employing teams of flexible brand creatives who can effectively then work within digital media channels.
Clearly, the above has already happened on a grand scale. Clearly it will continue to happen. Clearly I’ve already done it, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this blog. However, many agencies still haven’t and I’m led to believe that many larger agencies are struggling with it, due to their size and cultures (the old adage about turning oil tankers being at the forefront of my mind).
From my perspective, the interesting question is which agency is better placed to do this? Let’s look at the issues surrounding each:

Your traditional agency…

  • Likely has a management and strategy team with years of experience in producing traditional above-the-line creative (TV, press, outdoor, DM etc);
  • Has a creative team with core skills set around traditional advertising;
  • Has an account management team similar to the above (with less industry experience);
  • More than likely has a Creative Director over 35, who doesn’t have a social media account and spends less than 20 mins online per day;
  • Has little understanding of new, digital media channels, and/or is very much from an old-school interruptive advertising background (i.e. used to advertising at people). With that in mind, they might stretch to producing online display ads…


Your digital agency…

  • Likely has a management and strategy team, the majority of which are all under 40 – either an entire career (of under 10 years) in digital (granted, there are also be plenty of those former traditional marketers who saw the opportunity early);
  • Has two teams; one made up of digital designers, the other made up of developers/coders;
  • More than likely has a Creative Director under 35 and is less likely to be from an advertising/campaign creation background;
  • Probably has a team with similar skills – none of which are campaign creators or brand thinkers. More likely designers and developers.

Sweeping generalisations? Before you shoot me, yes of course I’m generalising and I know there are exceptions to the aforementioned. However…

So which agency is better placed to get ahead? Traditional agencies ‘dabbling’ at digital, or digital agencies that are developing creatively? I have to say it’s the latter. I believe that digital agencies, by their (youthful) nature, are infinitely more agile. I also believe they have the upper hand due to the fact their core skill set includes digital marketing futurology. In addition, the majority of decent digital agencies are in the throws of developing their own in-house creative teams.

But what of the digital agency lacking in creative culture? Beware indeed. As much as there are traditional agencies unprepared for the kind of integration I’ve mentioned; digital agencies who aren’t recruiting serious campaign creative talent, or ensuring they’ve got an accessible creative culture, will undoubtedly experience the same issues and potential failure. One thing is for sure: we are bobbing along in a sea of change, and whenever change comes into play for businesses, there’s an argument to say we must either adapt, or die.

‘Through-the-line’ (what is the line?)

6 Sep

through the line marketingI was having a chat with a colleague the other day and I found myself referring to a ‘through the line’ agency.  Within seconds of the words leaving my mouth, it was obvious that he had no bloody idea what I was talking about.  Furthermore, I’ve been in this industry for almost 20 years and, throughout those years – in countless meetings – we (i.e. all of us) have discussed the magical and mythical ‘line’ and I wonder whether many people know about the defining features of the aforementioned line.

To be clear, I’m talking about that line – that we work below, above, or sometimes even through.  Sounds exciting, doesn’t it!!!

In traditional terms, ‘above the line’ (ATL), ‘below the line’ (BTL) and ‘through the line’ (TTL) are all different ways in which brands try to sell their products.

ATL comms use broadcast and published media, whilst BTL offers the ability to provide apersonal message to the audience using direct mail (DM), electronic direct mail (EDM), or a plain old-fashioned brochure (for example).  ATL or BTL comms can be used to build brand awareness or drive sales through specific offers/promotions.

ATL comms are perceptively more difficult to measure, whilst BTL are highly measurable, providing valuable marketing insights.

Making sense yet..?!  I wouldn’t be surprised if you said “Errr… NO…”

OK… Here’s an attempt at simplifying it:

  1. Mass media channels, such as TV, radio, outdoor (or ‘out of home’, as it’s now known), cinema, magazines, newspapers, are all classed as ‘above the line’.
  2. Non-media or advertising comms are classed as ‘below the line’.
  3. ‘Through the line’ refers to an integrated campaign, involving both ATL and BTL (TV, outdoor and DM for example), allowing brands to engage on multiple levels with their audience.

So what about the internet?!  That’s ON the line!!  Panic not, my (rightfully) confused marketer.  That’s a different line.  Online (or ‘digital’ as it’s fast becoming known as) is, for the purposes of classification very much ATL.  However, digital marketing as we know is also BTL and TTL!!  I know… How confusing is this?!!!  Digital offers an unspeakably large potential – from niche to mass market – from targeted to non-targeted – all absolutely measurable in every way possible. And let’s not even try to work out where social media fits into this pigeonholing exercise! After all, it’s ‘mass market’, but it’s not ‘paid media’. So what is it?!!

Which actually brings me to my point: It never ceases to amaze me how much smoke & mirrors jargon there is in our industry; it’s amusing and depressing all at the same time – when all it comes down to is that you’ve got a brand trying to engage with a consumer – with multiple ways to communicate to them.  As for the business of this ‘line’, I think it’s all about to become very blurred indeed…

Social vs traditional – the ongoing debate…

2 Jun

“Is social media negating the need for traditional marketing as we know it?”

If I had a quid for every blog I’ve read around this subject of late… Granted, the majority of people posting this sort of question are not likely true ‘social media experts’.

The answer to the above quandary is of course no, don’t be daft. Social networking is another communications channel. A relatively new communications channel, which is still finding a place in the world, thanks to its fast development. It’s by no means the Emperor’s New Media (pardon the shit pun) but it’s amazingly valuable and offers all-manner of opportunities. However, there’s a still a long way to go for it to find itself – oddly (in part) due to the fact that many marketers are trying to shape it into yet more interruptive marketing, rather than simply let it be.  Regardless, there are clearly countless possibilities around the corner, which I (and we) will be interested to explore when it comes to creating our brand stories.

In addition, I’m intrigued about what it’s doing to twist the arms of brands, into completely re-evaluating how they communicate their values and propositions (i.e. driving honesty).

A friend of mine recently wrote  about content being viewed in some circles as theonly form of marketing going forward. I find this to be a fascinating point, and one of the concepts that’s resonated most with me when it comes to brands communicating via social media.  Dan’s point derives from the simple view that social media is a conduit for content. Potentially massive amounts of content. The key, however, being that the content has to be TRUE and has to be HONEST. I.e. it has to be on-brand.

Now then, I don’t profess to be a social media expert – nor am I a digital evangelist. But I do know a little about brand marketing. And I’d be utterly rubbish at my job if I weren’t already acutely aware of the astounding opportunity that social media content has to offer to brands that truly understand their values – and are fully prepared to bare all in digital spaces: Not in a contrived manner (as is happening now), but with all the honesty they can muster. This way brands can use social media/digital marketing as a far-reaching extension of their brand message.

So maybe it’s more the case that the advanced use of social media by brands will bring about a healthy and vast reduction in bull-shit marketing messages – rather than the media formats used to carry them..? Entirely possible. As always though, I’d exercise caution in using any marketing channel, until the brand message is absolutely right (cart… horse…).

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