Here are some insightful articles from the past few weeks. We hope you find them useful. Click on the headlines to link to the articles.
Three Priorities for the Digital CMO – Harvard Business Review
"As chief storyteller, you have more opportunities to develop compelling and relevant brand identities by including your customers in the narrative creation process right from the start. And consumers have shown time and time again that they trust brands that trust them. And while sometimes scary, that can't be a bad thing."
8 More Cold Hard Content Marketing Stats – Business2Business Community
Nice recap of the latest studies about content marketing's effectiveness from a variety of sources.
How Shared Media Fits into the Marketing Mix – iMedia Connection
“Shared media is a subset of earned media and a form of amplification. Earned media generally tends have a point of view or an editorial bend. Examples might be a blog post or an article around a topic, a video of a product unboxing, or commentary. Shared media, on the other hand, tends to be a forward, a retweet, a pin, or (on Facebook) a literal "share." Perhaps a word or comment is injected, but essentially it's a pass-along of an essentially unaltered element of content”
10 Trends in B2B and B2C Content Marketing – Connote Magazine
“These content marketing trends, in no particular order, will impact how businesses grow their brand footprint in the coming months and years. New trends will undoubtedly emerge as time goes on, but we feel that this list is a great starting point for any brand.” Two that resonate are video engagement and using content across multiple platforms.
How Story Platforms Help Global Brands Go Local – Harvard Business Review
“The power of a brand's Story Platform is that it is singular (there is never more than one), unchanging over long periods of time, differentiating (focused on what makes the brand unique for its audiences) and contains the authentic truth of the brand. It also defines what subject areas a brand can credibly create content around — the brand's "authority to publish." Using a Story Platform properly, brands and their agencies can build a huge variety of brand stories over a long period of time and every story will ladder up to the brand's core proposition.”
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The battle between Apple and Samsung is heating up for both smartphones and tablets. Apple has a lot riding on the release of iOS7 and the new iPhones and iPads that will follow. Samsung has a more varied product line and leads with the Galaxy 4. Both product families are excellent and it often comes down to personal preference or your carrier. The contrasts between their marketing/advertising approaches are as different as the phones. It is a case study in how you create and leverage a brand.
Samsung’s history as a maker of devices and products is evident in their marketing – they advertise the “thing”. And, they do like to spend. They have always tried to bludgeon the competition with huge media buys across several products categories. Their ads focus on the features and the cool stuff you can do with the Galaxy such as the larger screen or the ability to wave your hand for a command. This clearly appeals to people who watch a lot of video and play games, and don’t really think of it as a telephone. The devices are stand alone in that they don’t really tie to any other Samsung offering, but rather the Apps offered in the Android store.
The ads have another obvious theme – they are not Apple and it’s not an iPhone. This plays on two factors, first, a blowback against the popularity of Apple and their famously devoted fans. Secondly, they are trying to create a movement that they are the “next cool thing” and preferred by the young and hip, by contrast, Apple is for boring middle age people who drive a Camry and have 401Ks.
Here is a long form ad that is a combination of cool gadgets and young people befuddleing their elders with their magic machine
I am not a fan of this as a long-term strategy because hinging on being the new cool thing has a short shelf life. By definition something can only be new and leading edge for a short amount of time – ask Vine. Also, you may be writing off or insulting a large segment of consumers. There are not a lot of people 40+ who aspire to be a 25-year-old hipster, but they do have a lot more disposable income.
Apple’s approach is clearly illustrated by their new commercial you can see below.
When asking the famous question “what business are you in?” Apple would never answer with anything to do with devices, phones, computer etc. Those are just the means to the end. Apple is in the experience business – they enhance your life with information and entertainment and empower you at work. Their have created an entire interconnected ecosystem that works together seamlessly in the cloud. Apple is the ultimate lifestyle brand with a strong emotional connection between company and customer. This sometimes borders on irrational (i.e. waiting online overnight for a phone that will be available everywhere within weeks), but that is what emotions are all about.
Watch this Apple ad on how they bring you Music
This ad shows the photo experience
Everything from games, music, TV/movies, Apps, pictures are integrated and can be consumed over numerous form factors. Apple’s ads are about empowerment, almost on a spiritual basis. They are not so much what you can do with your Apple product but how it makes your life better. Contrast that with the Samsung ads that often zero in on one particular feature and it is presented sometimes with an air of smugness while the vibe at Apple is one of wonder and inspiration. And, catch the tag at the end of the newest ads – “Designed in California” Is that a jibe at Korean owned Samsung, or to make us forget about their Chinese factories?
The battle is fascinating to watch and should heat up in Q4 for the holiday season. For now, having the integrated platform gives Apple a leg up to leverage new innovations such as wearable technology. I’ll continue to enjoy my Apple ecosystem of media and Apps, often viewed through my AppleTV, which is connected to my Samsung LED TV. It’s a great TV, but it offers the least amount of value throughout the chain and is the most easily replaced – that’s often the case with devices. In contrast, experiences are hard to duplicate.
You may have heard the news of Pew’s new research on tablet ownership in the U.S. and the results are eye opening. 33% of all adults own a tablet (defined as iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Google Nexus, or Kindle Fire)—almost twice as many as the 18% who owned a tablet a year ago. And, up from zero three years ago when Apple’s introduced the disruptive iPad. (Go here to download the report)
The ownership numbers rise to 50% for key demographics such as:
* Ages 35-44
* People with College degrees
* Households over 75K per year
* Parents who have a child in the house
Not surprisingly, this rapid adoption has fostered a decrease in PC sales. Tablet ownership should spike again this fall when the iOS7 powered new iPad rolls out along with competitive products from Samsung, Amazon, and Google
The vast majority of these tablets are not being used as “mobile devices”, but rather content consumption machines for text, images, video, music and social media. And, they are being used to buy lots of stuff from e-retailers. It is important to keep the use cases in mind – the PC is still the best device for creating content and working on complex problem solving – for now. However, the tablet is superior for the classic “lean back” content emersion experience. The clean and simple interface has contributed to the fast adaption. Almost anyone from a toddler to the elderly can pick it up and figure it out within minutes. Perhaps this will be Steve Job’s lasting legacy.
Clearly, the implications for brands and content marketers are immense as the “brand as media channel” revolution is in full swing and a CMO priority. Content needs to be device agnostic and flow naturally to all possible devices and form factors.
Karen McGrane the author of Content Strategy for Mobile, recently wrote on the Harvard Business Review blog about how it is time to shift away from a paper/page paradigm for digital content. Since the beginning of the web in the mid 90’s people have viewed it with the printed page in mind, hence the term web page. The first websites were offshoots of printed material so it was natural to post print composed pages on the web. McGrane suggests that is time to move past this thinking and it is hard to argue with the logic. She says:
Publishing content to a variety of devices and platforms is fundamentally different from print. This wave of new connected devices means it's time we accept that the web isn't just a glorified print document. The way we think about content needs to change.
She suggests a new way to view content through the lens of the user experience.
"The page" as a container is so fundamental to how we think about reading; it's hard to break away from thinking about our content that way. On the web, we've repurposed that model, treating all of our content (text, but also graphics, videos, and other interactive elements) as through they "live" on a particular page. You don't have to spend too much time thinking about all these new form factors and device types to realize that the very notion of a page doesn't hold up. Content will "live" on many different screens and presentations.
The future of connected devices is content in "chunks," not pages. Smaller, discrete content objects can be dynamically targeted to specific platforms and assembled into new containers on the fly. Which content and how much content appears on a given screen or interface will be defined by a set of rules, informed by metadata. Content will break free of the page and "live" in lots of different places.”
The tablet is just the first step, as we could be looking at wearable technology (Google Glasses, iWatch) very soon, and voice commands will enable content integration within cars.
While we are on the topic of moving away from old ideas, Rebecca Lieb an analyst for Altimeter Group writes about banner ads on iMedia Connection. The banner ad comes from the same previous paradigm, it was merely a print ad transported to the web by ad sales people. A recent study from comScore as reported by the Wall Street Journal shows some shocking results:
“54 percent of online display ads shown in “thousands” of campaigns measured by comScore Inc. between May of 2012 and February of this year weren’t seen by anyone, according to a study completed last month. Don’t confuse “weren’t seen” with “ignored.” These ads simply weren’t seen, the result of technical glitches, user habits and fraud.” A mind-blowing amount of precious marketing budget is heading right into the shredder.
Yet, as Lieb points out, the demand and revenue for these outdated marketing tactics continues to grow while producing fewer results for marketers and less revenue for publishers as CPMs plummet. Clearly, it’s time for a change when billions are wasted each year.
The takeaway for content marketers is to think differently when it comes to customer content engagement strategies. The same old ideas and tired tactics won’t work as your customer’s readership habits evolve and interruptive marketing no longer works. Time and technology only move forward, and today it happens fast.
Here is an HBR post on the future of marketing that quotes Gerd Leonard, billed as “one of the leading media-futurists in the world” by the Wall Street Journal. You can see the full post here, but the first prediction is the one that is most important:
“By 2020, most interruptive marketing will be gone. Instead, marketing will be personalized, customized, and adapted to what I have expressed as my wishes or opt-ins — which essentially means that advertising becomes content. Data will be essential, and as users, we'll be paying with our data — bartering a bit of our personal information in return for the use of platforms and services. Customers will be forming relationships with brands that are built on trust, and if a company breaks that trust, it will be very quickly viral and very quickly over. By 2020, unauthorized targeting of consumers will essentially be useless. I, as a consumer, am going to choose who I want to hear from. I'm going to like things, or I won't like them, and you will have to earn that from me.”
I certainly agree, it is the central idea behind content marketing and why it has become the top focus for CMOs. If consumers are in control of their media choices in 2013, what will seven more years of technological advances bring to the average person? Also, by 2020 a new generation of marketers will be ascending to the CMO/CEO chair and many rote legacy tactics will be history.
We have a hard time imagining a 2020 world with no network TV ads or print ads, but that day will eventually come. Most consumers under 30 today will likely never subscribe to a print newspaper or magazine, own a landline, buy a CD/DVD or schedule their viewing around network television. They will be more interested in user-generated content and branded content than older generations. And, they will be less jaded about their relationships with brands than those of us who grew up with ads screaming at us to buy, buy, buy. Social media has taught us that brands are shared with consumers and the illusion of control is gone. The future of brands is about trust and shared values.
As mobile devices become our primary communication devices, the tolerance for interruptive marketing will continue to decrease, as the intrusion seems more personal.
The questions you need to think about: What does your customer want from a brand? Is your brand ready for the shift? How about your skills and career? We are in a transitional period and things are moving fast – are you ready?
Recently I had the pleasure of hearing Converse’s CMO Geoff Cottrill speak at a Boston Ad Club event. His approach to marketing is exactly where brands should be as content marketing evolves and we move into the social era. Converse does some traditional advertising, but it is not central to their brand promise or customer engagement strategy. Their approach dovetails nicely with this HBR blog post explaining how in the social age, media pipes are less important, and people are the channel. This was the foundation of Geoff’s talk – as he opened with the comment that “people are media”. Here are some highlights I took away from Converse’s marketing approach:
• “People as media” means turning your customers into brand advocates by starting conversations and bringing like-minded people together. Helping instead of selling and understanding your customer’s persona and the essence of the brand connection.
• Converse strives for authenticity and knows exactly who they are and who is the core customer. The days of being a performance sneaker are long in the past and they focus on the musicians, skateboarders and fashion conscious people who make the brand part of their lifestyle.
• In a sense, they create a platform for creativity and self-expression – both through the shoes (a blank canvas that can be customized) and their Rubber Tracks music studio where they help aspiring musicians record original music. Below is an example of music created as part of a series "Three Artists, One Song" - "Warrior" is a song by New Zealand singer Kimbra, featuring Mark Foster of the American indie pop band Foster the People and Canadian electro house DJ A-Trak.
• Converse wants to own their media, not rent it. There is little interest in slapping their name on an event they don’t own. With their worldwide social presence (including 36 million Facebook fans) and web site, they have aggregated an audience of nearly 120 million – those are Super Bowl numbers. In contrast to the Super Bowl, they own their media channel and have an existing permission based relationship with the community.
• Converse knows what business it is really in – sure they sell sneakers and apparel – but it is bigger than the products. They are a lifestyle brand that stands for originality, creativity and a rebellious sprit. The products help enable and enhance the lifestyle for their loyal community. They know it is all about the customer, not the brand.
The sellout crowd of over 300 left with much to think about and a $50 Converse gift card – new converts to Converse Nation.
While social media and mobile marketing often get the buzz three new studies have pointed to content marketing being the top priority for marketers in 2013. There is now widespread and growing acceptance of the practice of brands creating original content to engage and inspire prospects and customers. In the B2B space, the use of content to bring insight to customers while positioning company as a thought leader has topped enabling sales and generating demand according to one study.
A study from Econsultancy and Adobe shows that content marketing has leapfrogged social media into the top spot – an increase of 10 points over 2012.
A new offering from CopyPress shows over a third of marketers consider content marketing to be their leading focus, up from 19% last year and ahead of social media. The study also shows that among custom content tactics, articles, video and white papers deliver the best bang for the buck for ROI, though videos are still considered expensive to produce.
ITSMA’s latest version of their Services Marketing Budget Allocations and Trends, 2008-2013 states that the top priority for B2B marketer is “Developing thought leadership content that drives business”. A steady climb up the ranks since placing 7th among priorities as recently as 2009. The tracking study also shows that budget is being moved into content marketing and demand generation via digital channels and custom events and away from traditional advertising, sponsorships and trade shows.
These studies show the culmination of a movement that has been happening for several years and now reaching critical mass. Marketers are also realizing after the excitement of social media has worn away those social channels are not very effective without meaningful content to engage. Social gimmicks and other flash in the pans don’t create long lasting customer relationships or loyal advocates. In world where consumers are in control and the buyer’s journey has changed, content has become the preeminent marketing tactic.
To get some added insight on how to create content for your brand, please download our free ebook "The Right Content and the Right Time"
Guest post from Michael Blumfield a member of the King Fish content team. You can find his site here.
I stand before you today to present the case against LinkedIn for acts of deception, manipulation, and general ickiness that undermine its status in the vanguard of the marketing revolution.
As you are well aware from countless stories in forward-looking publications such as Fast Company, Wired and Disney Kids Magazine, we are in the midst of a fundamental reordering of our communications structure. No longer are we, the people, subject to the will of unseen powers. We are now the agents of power. We have access to virtually unlimited information. We have channels of sharing our views to as wide an audience as we choose (as long as that audience shares our appreciation for Justin Bieber and Katy Perry).
A new order has emerged. Transparency is the law. Content is king. Unfounded claims will be torn asunder by an army of commentators, some of whom can actually spell.
At the dawn of our revolution, LinkedIn was there, standing proud, eager and willing to help make connections among the people. It launched before Facebook, before Twitter, before the iPhone, even —in the dim and distant time known as 2003.
Comrades, you remember those early, heady days – days when you felt anything was possible. Days when you thought if you could get your second-cousin’s third-level connection to accept your invitation, you were just a few clicks away from setting up a lunch with the CEO of a company you were targeting.
Such visions, and other less grandiose notions of how LinkedIn could serve as a tool of business, are under threat – by LinkedIn itself! Allow me to present just two recent examples from personal experience:
The Elite 10% Club Falsity – Just this morning I awoke to learn I had achieved a special status. I was, according to LinkedIn, among the top 10% of all LinkedIn users whose profiles had been scanned by others. In other words, without my awareness, it turns out I am very popular. VERY popular. With 200 million users worldwide, I am more popular than 180 million other users.
After a 20-minute personal rendition of “We Are the Champions” that echoed throughout my neighborhood as I walked my dog (who seemed particularly eager to return home, for some reason), it dawned on me that perhaps I was not so special after all. I mean, I did have close to 9 people look at my profile in the past week, but is that really so extraordinary? I did some checking. Apparently, people who literally have HUNDREDS of people looking at their profile every day did NOT get an invitation from LinkedIn to put a Top 10% Gold Star on their site! In other words, I had been manipulated in a fashion no different than the people who publish the Who’s Who series of books – a shameless play to my vanity! This is not just old-school marketing. This is from a time when the school was in a cave and the “blackboard” was festooned with drawings of wooly mammoths and mastodons!
The You’re-Great-At-Email Skill Skewer – A few months ago, I received a notice that a connection of mine had praised my ability at email marketing. Which was strange, given that 1) I don’t particularly think of email marketing as an extraordinary talent of mine and 2) the endorser has never worked with me or even met me. Then I got more and more people saying I was good at email marketing – not the 14 other things I listed as among my skills. Just emailing.
Shortly thereafter, I saw how this had come to be. LinkedIn – bloody counterrevolutionary organization that it is – had “suggested” to these folks that I was Mr. Email Marketing, didn’t they agree? I was invited to endorse similar skills of folks I knew --- all of whom were ending up with as lopsided a set of endorsements as mine. So now when I have lunch with that CEO, all he’s going to want to talk about is how come everybody assumes the only thing I’m any good at is emailing?
But alas, comrades, I cannot allow the only defendant in this case to be a faceless corporation that is driven by profit and a desire to please shareholders. No, comrades, I must point the finger at you and me.
The I’ll-Sleep-With-Anybody-Who-Asks Factor – In those early days, I valiantly turned away people who sought a connection if I didn’t know them. I naively believed in the premise of LinkedIn – that I could share my group of connections with others who had a separate group of connections. I might have had only 43 people in my listings, but dammit, those were 43 people I knew well! If you wanted an introduction to any of them, I’d be happy to help.
Pretty soon, I began to look a bit pathetic with my 43 connections. Friends of mine were showing 250, 300, 400, even 500+ connections. Wow, I thought, they’re really special folks to know so many people! One time, an actual connection of mine – a guy with 500+ connections – listed on LinkedIn the name of a person very high up at a company that I wanted to do some work with. I called up my friend and asked what the guy was like. “Oh, hmm, let me see,” he said. “I think I met him at a party once. I can’t tell you much more than that.”
I should have stopped right there and sworn I would never follow my friend along this path to the Land of Make-Believe Connections. But I didn’t. I accepted invitations from people I kinda sorta remembered just to bump up that total number of connections. I accepted invitations from folks who would tell the world how great I was at email marketing, even though we had never met.
Once the wheel of karma rolled over me and squished out most of my self-worth, I decided to put an end to it. For a couple of weeks now, I’ve not responded to invitations to connect from people I don’t know. I’ve ignored suggestions to connect with others I barely know. I’ve even deleted a few people whom I couldn’t say anything more about than my friend with the 500+ connections who thought maybe he met that guy at a party.
And so, comrades, I turn over the next phase of this trial to you. Will you continue my line of prosecution of LinkedIn? Will you rise to its defense?
First of a two part post on why Subaru is finding sales success in the U.S. Part one is by King Fish Content Strategy Team member Anna Goldsmith of the Hired Pens. Part two next week by King Fish CMO Gordon Plutsky on their customer retention strategy. They are both happy Subaru owners.
"You Don't Have to Be Everything to Everyone. You Have to Be Something to Someone."
By Anna Goldsmith
Further dispatches from the world of smart branding: On my way home from dropping my son off at school, I was flipping around the radio and stopped on an interview on NPR Business News with Jake Fisher, director of auto testing at Consumer Reports.
They were talking about how Subaru had been able to increase sales by nearly a third in recent years while other car companies were just trying to keep their heads (or turbo-charged V6 engines) above water.
So what is Subaru doing right? Actually it's what we try to convince our clients to do every day: Find your audience and speak to them, just them. Trying to appeal to everyone, well, sounds appealing. When you crunch the numbers, though, it doesn't work.
Successful companies like Subaru boldly define who they are and go after THAT audience, not EVERY audience. It's as simple as picking a story that works and finding some reliable copywriters to tell that story right.
Subaru will never be a giant car company — and it shouldn't be. As Jake Fisher explains, Subaru can serve as an example for other carmakers looking to grow:
"They've kind of taken this slow, systematic approach and just really concentrated on what they needed to do to be competitive in the market. … I don't think they have to be a Toyota; they don't have to be everyone else. They don't have to be everything to everyone; they have to be something to someone."
So is who is Subaru targeting exactly? Well, I drive a Subaru and so do all my friends. Who are we? The sketch comedy "Portlandia" dedicated a whole sketch to us liberal-leaning 30-40 somethings.
The way I like to sum it up is this: We think spending a ton of money on a car is a waste; in fact, we wish we didn't have to drive one at all. But since we do, we'll take one that is safe and at least vaguely stylish, can handle well in the snow and has enough room for hauling around our kids/skis/dogs. And, oh yeah, we wouldn't be caught dead in a minivan. Even the Cadillac of minivans.
BTW: You can find the whole article or listen to the live show here — including the "Portlandia" clip.
All ads referenced can be seen here on Ad Age.com
1. Storytelling Works – Long form ads from Jeep (with Oprah) and Dodge Ram (with Paul Harvey) really created an emotional connection by reaching deep into our collective consciousness highlighting veterans and farmers. Similar long form stories also worked for Tide, Taco Bell and Mercedes-Benz. Best Buy had the best celebrity tie in with a very funny Amy Poehler.
2. Earned Media should be a goal for ROI– The previews and buzz around the ads create a huge amount of earned media that can represent a positive ROI payback. Details in this WSJ article - the extended legs with bloggers and media helps justify the expense.
3. Social Media Connections: A Mixed Bag - Twitter was mentioned in 50 percent of the spots that aired during CBS’ game coverage. Facebook was mentioned in only four ads and Google+, not at all. YouTube and Instagram were even mentioned once each, by Hyundai and Oreo, respectively. This is shockingly low considering how many of the target audiences were on social media during the game, and will watch the ads today online. A huge missed opportunity. This should be concerning for Facebook as they try to generate more revenue for social commerce and marketers. As an aside, my own Facebook news feed was very quiet during the game.
4. Marketing in Real Time – The action on Twitter was hot and heavy and the blackout afforded nimble marketers such as Oreo and Audi to act quickly. While everyone is all excited about Oreo “winning” the night, the real test will be to look at their sales over the next few weeks. Audi’s gentle slap at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome was funny. "RT @Audi: Sending some LEDs to the @MBUSA Superdome right now..."
Also, Major League Baseball jumped to remind everyone spring training was on the way. All well done and a lesson on how to be relevant in real time. Watching the Super Bowl has become a communal two-screen experience for millions. The action on Twitter is fun and makes the game and the commercials even better. Marketers need to do a better job leveraging this phenomenon.
5. Time to Move On – The Go Daddy.com gross-fest is pretty much at the limit and the E-Trade Baby is completely out of gas. Personally, I am sick of the Doritos consumer generated ads. Cute idea several years ago, now just amateurish frat humor.
God Made a Farmer image from Ram's Super Bowl Ad