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?
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"
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
Super Bowl Sunday is not only the day we crown the NFL champion, but the biggest day in marketing too. CBS has sold out its inventory that fetched roughly $3.8 million for 30 seconds of airtime. An expensive proposition even before you factor in production cost for the creative. Is it worth it? How can companies get the most bang for their huge investment?
Digiday.com (http://www.digiday.com/brands/what-a-4-mil-superbowl-ad-could-buy-in-digital/) put together a great list of what else you can buy for $4 million including 100 million impressions on Hulu, Twitter’s promoted trending topic every day for a month or a portal roadblock every day for a week. These would get attention and drive measurable ROI for your brand.
When looking at the recent past of Super Bowl commercials I am reminded of this quote from Sun Tzu’s Art of War – “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”
Over the years we have seen a variety of tactics aimed more at generating buzz and awards than really advancing brands – in other words noise. For many brands, their Super Bowl efforts have become as predictable as the Patriots coming up short in the playoffs. The commercials are usually some combination of kids/dogs/celebrities/pretty women and dopey men in an attempt to be funny, provocative or cute. Everyone loves the E-Trade baby, but does he really still move the brand forward. And, the Go Daddy/Danica Patrick partnership is stale and tired – and what does it tell me about the value of their service? Both of these campaigns are scheduled to run again this year.
To be successful on Super Sunday marketers need to view the venue as part of a larger campaign not a one-off opportunity to be amusing. A recent survey by advertiser Century 21 confirms what we’d all expect – “36% say they'll use a second screen to supplement the game-viewing experience. They'll be checking sports news apps on their phone or tablet for breaking, behind-the-scene commentary. And 52% say they'll use social media during the game. They'll be talking about the game and — what else — the commercials.” (Mashable). (http://mashable.com/2013/01/28/super-bowl-survey-second-screen-big-game/)
The fact that fully half of viewers will be on social media leads to the conclusion that your Super Bowl Ad must be part of a larger, long term digital campaign to truly drive ROI for your brand.
Here are some other ways to get value for your $4 million:
Break some news; tell the audience something new about your company. Mercedes-Benz is announcing the new CLA class – likely to be a lower price point entry-level car. (http://www.mbusa.com/mercedes/benz/innovation/future/model-2014_CLA)
Have a strong call to action back to a social platform or your web site. Give viewers something to do with all those smartphones, tablets and laptops that will be at the ready. A Paramount Pictures ad for a new Star Trek movie will be tied into a mobile app.
Wonderful Pistachios is driving viewers to a Facebook contest app where they can upload a picture of how they “Get Crackin’ Gangnam Style” to win a one year lease to a Merecedes SLK250, the car featured in the Gangnam Style video. (https://www.facebook.com/wonderfulpistachios/app_446442892072121)
Think in terms of sharable content; make the ads and extensions easily accessible and shareable through Facebook and Twitter. Both will see huge spikes in traffic on Sunday and your brand should be part of the conversation.
The ad and integrated digital campaign should do more then just entertain; they should demonstrate value to the customer and help move them down the decision making process. This could be accomplished by sending them to a site with content and information that takes them deeper into your brand. The idea that “helping is selling” can be extended to your Super Bowl campaign as marketers should be striving to make a long term emotional connection with customers rather than just a fleeting laugh.
1. Present a Unique Point of View - Are you providing insight and opinions that bring something new to the topic? Being remarkable can sometimes mean being controversial or taking a contrary stand, or at least having a strong opinion. There is plenty of bland content out there, so be thought provoking. Bringing real insight is a way to generate comments, stimulate conversation and encourage sharing. You want to drive an action, and being different is a good way to start.
2. Make it Sharable – One question to ask before publishing content: Would my target audience share it or recommend it? Think of it like the NetPromoter score. An endorsement from an advocate has more meaning than almost any other method of distributing your content. People rely on the opinions of peers, so create something your audience will want to share.
3. Prove your Point with Data – It is easy to have an opinion, but you will be more remarkable if you build a case with data, research and sourced facts. If you want your audience to rely on and share your content, you need to make a solid, defendable case.
4. Invest in Design - Present your content in an engaging manner for an audience that is likely overwhelmed with constant information. Smart use of design, graphics, photos, video and other elements add to accessibility and understanding. Your final format should be easy to read with clear entry points throughout, guiding the reader through your remarkable copy. Social media and mobile platforms have helped create shorter attention spans, so you need to grab your audience’s interest quickly.
5. Tell a Story – No one wants to go back to his or her school days of reading dry textbooks. Storytelling is an ancient tradition and how we are wired to learn. When content is put into the context of a compelling story, you inspire your audience to connect and communicate with your brand. Also, tell a clean and simple story with good clear writing, as no one has time to decipher a puzzle.
6. Be an Expert – Nothing is more important to creating remarkable content than having it written by a subject matter expert who is well versed in your industry. Your audience will not engage with content that is written at a superficial or amateurish level. The quality of writing is critical, as it must be at the level of today’s major media newspapers, magazine and websites. It goes without saying that spelling and grammar need to be impeccable, so hire a copy editor if you must.
7. Be a Platform - Make your site/blog the hub of your digital marketing universe; in fact think of it as a platform. From this platform engage and surround your customer with a variety of media types through social and mobile channels. You need to be everywhere your customers are consuming information.
8. Become a Lifestyle Brand vs. a Product - Understand who your customer is, what drives them and what you mean in their lives. Determine what business you are really in today. For example, Sephora is in the beauty empowerment business rather than just selling make-up. For Whole Foods, it is health and wellness, not groceries. Apple is a lifestyle while Samsung is a product, the difference is subtle but means everything for the long term.
Every year I put together content marketing/digital marketing predictions for the coming year. I have been trying to come up with something fresh and then it hit me that we may be past talking about how these tactics and platforms are the hot new thing. They have arrived. Digital platforms, including social and mobile have become the major force and channel for marketers. Content marketing and storytelling have become the primary engine for a company’s customer engagement strategies. The “new new thing” has become the thing.
There is still an important place in the marketing mix for traditional advertising across several platforms, but the method of interrupting people while they are consuming content and entertainment is on the wane. Readership of newspapers and magazines continue to decrease as does viewership of network television. Advertising is sort of like the personal computer, they both have a huge installed base and not going anywhere soon, but you get a sense their best days are behind them.
Marketers across a spectrum of companies know they need a content strategy if they are going to efficiently attract new customers and retain the ones they currently have. It is clear that to have a successful social media strategy, you need something to say and that is where your content strategy comes in to play.
Companies are also realizing that generating leads in the digital age is not all that hard, but converting them to customers is harder than ever. Content is a critical component of a nurture campaign to bring customers through the sales funnel to become a customer.
Another popular use of content is to build an emotional relationship with customers that supersede the need to sell on price and features. This article highlights a few companies doing it well, Coke, Red Bull, GE, Kraft and Nike. For some companies content can help transform a transactional sale into a lifestyle brand – this is what Coca-Cola and Red Bull have in mind by turning themselves into media brands.
This good piece from the Harvard Business School names the “Content Economy” the top trend to watch for 2013. Could not agree more, the time is now.
Here are a few other predictions for 2013. Let me know if you agree or have your own in the comments section.
The San Francisco 49ers will beat Peyton Manning’s Broncos in the Super Bowl. This will give SF a second championship to pair with the Giants’ World Series win.
Whatever deal the President and Congress come up with to avert the fiscal cliff with solve not a single long term problem. The economy will lag with 2% growth and 7.5%+ unemployment throughout 2013. Americans really want big government, but want the other guy to pay for it. Not a recipe for success.
The revamped American Idol will falter significantly in the ratings but still be on top due to an overall decline in network TV viewership.
Reality TV will steam ahead led by shows such the Real Housewife franchise and rural themed shows like Duck Dynasty. People prefer real life storytelling to redundant plots from scripted TV.
More newspapers will erect pay walls for online content as the banner ad business falls under price pressure and less people subscribe to print. Newsroom staffs will need to be drastically scaled back over time. More magazines will follow Newsweek and The Sporting News to an online only model.
Apple’s stumble on Maps was a giant mistake; it opens the door for Samsung and Google. The aura of an infallible company was burst in an instant, a lesson for everyone.
The Microsoft Surface and phones based on Windows 8 will not catch fire. RIM will sell itself to someone, perhaps Google. Tablets of all kinds will continue to sell furiously which means marketers need to think about mobile as a primary consumption platform vs. the web. Nearly half of all emails will be read on a mobile device.
I don’t think Apple has anything big up their sleeve when it comes to TV for release in 2013, but they are working on it for 2014.
Facebook stock will hover in the high 20’s as they throw everything at the wall to find revenue. Their long-term success is based on getting more money from companies to promote and sell their products via FB. Look for a big push for social commerce with Pinterest to follow. There is a limit to how much these platforms can make with ads alone.
Companies will try harder to monetize Twitter (now at 200 million active users) and drive sales with deals and retail tie ins. Twitter will need to find a better source of revenue than promoted tweets and trends. Look for them to foster more partnerships with television networks and Nielsen. Their future may be as a complimentary platform to broadcast and cable TV. Twitter is becoming the go to place for breaking news and quick reaction. And, over-reaction and feigned outrage, case in point this week’s change in terms of service for Instagram. You would think the world was ending.
Social Media experts and consultants will try and make you feel like you are missing out on the next hot thing and you are falling behind. They want you to believe they have figured it all out. Don’t stress, the famous line about Hollywood also applies to social media – “No one knows anything.” We are roughly 5 minutes into the social media era – now is the time to experiment and see what works for your company and brand. Keep trying new things and have some fun with it.
Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!
The concept of brands becoming publishers/media channels is not new, but Coke just took it to a new and exciting place. They just re-launched their website, the first refresh since 2005, and turned their online presence into a consumer magazine called Journeys
. Specific details from the New York Times
can be read here
The key point is that Coca-Cola realizes they need a smarter approach to selling a commoditized product in a new media world. Advertising is getting less effective as technology gives consumers more ways to avoid it. And, media savvy people are comfortable getting information and entertainment from brands. What Coke really understands is the need embrace their role as a lifestyle brand and create lasting emotional connections with consumers. They are using content, entertainment, video and storytelling to engage customers. This approach works naturally in the social media and mobile world as those platforms become distributions channels for the original content. And, provides a venue to encourage user generate content and sharing.
There is a good lesson here for companies who battle on price or features and often have a transactional relationship with their customers. These types of competitive situations become a war of attrition as marketers’ battle over discounts and promotions. Supermarkets and consumer electronics are examples in addition to consumables like cola, coffee, bottled water etc. If these companies can make the transition to lifestyle brands they will be able to leverage loyalty and maintain margins. Apple, Starbucks, Wegmans and Whole Foods are good examples, not to mention Harley-Davidson, LL Bean, Nike, Ritz-Carlton and Patron. They can command a premium vs. similar competitors because they have pivoted to a lifestyle brand. Being a customer of these brands allow you to say something about your personality and enables people to feel they are part of a community of like minded people. This dimension cannot be underestimated in a world were people are sharing much of their lives online.
Coke’s strategic commitment and investment is a smart one and will likely be duplicated by many other brands in the near future. Smart marketers should be thinking about how their customers perceive them in relation to competitors. In the new media era you need to be more than a company that just sells “stuff” at a good price.
A few weeks ago my wife and I made a trip to Walden Pond to see where Henry David Thoreau wrote Walden. Published in 1854, it details Thoreau's experiences over the course of two years in a cabin he built near Concord, Mass. One of his famous quotes should be a mantra for every marketer – Simplify.
(Me at Walden Pond)
Consumers are overloaded with marketing/brand messages on every platform, it is estimated we are hit with nearly 3000 messages a day. As a result attention spans have become shorter and more distracted. We have less tolerance for how much content we will consume at one glance. Our brains are now used to processing short bursts of info – texts, tweets, FB posts, broadcast/print ads, email, etc. Given this backdrop, marketers need to craft their messages with brevity in mind.
One of the most important duties for a marketer is creating the description for your company – positioning statements and “About us” copy for your web site and collateral. In addition, it is valuable to arm your employees with a quick verbal “elevator/cocktail party” pitch version so they can successfully articulate the company’s value. This description should be from your customer’s point of view – what benefit do you provide for them. Key point - It is about the customer, not you and your award winning technology or world class production facility or sigma six processes or your diverse and happy employees.
So many companies (especially in the B2B world) have buzzword dense, convoluted descriptions on their web site. How many times have you visited a site and not been able to figure out what the company actually does. Too often a committee writes these statements and everyone feels they need to shove in extraneous words to make it sound important.
For effective marketing, the opposite is true. In today’s cluttered information world you need to be able state your position in a clean simple sentence or two. To get to this description you must think about the essence of your brand promise in one simple concept – why do people ultimately buy your product or service. This exercise will also help your SEO and inbound web traffic. A clearer description can help lower your bounce rate and encourage people to go deeper into your site.
Craft your statement in a few words as possible and test it out on a few people. It should convey a simple message to someone outside your industry. Once you have this down you can then further build your case with supporting points, facts and research. However, you should lead with a simple statement that instantly lets a prospect know what you can do for them. Simplify.
Of late, marketers have mastered using white papers, eBooks, webinars and other free content to pull prospects into lead management funnels and keep sales teams busy for months. This is in contrast to a time not too long ago, when marketers' toughest challenge was generating qualified leads.
But the increase in prospects brought the challenge of lead conversion. And in some cases the marketing department—and not the sales staff—is better suited to meet this challenge.
Salespeople have discovered there can be a grey area between lead and conversion, such as when the prospect has indicated interest but is not quite ready to commit. The prospect needs to be courted first. And while the ultimate proposal—the sale—still may be the job of the sales team, the courting (or lead nurturing) should be the responsibility of marketing.
Lead nurturing takes place after the prospect has been acquired and is safely inside the lead management or CRM system. Content marketing can have a powerful impact on this activity.
It takes five to six high quality touches to turn a new lead into a customer, according to estimates by Forrester and marketing automation firms. As such, it is critical for marketers to understand how to use authoritative content to move the lead to a loyal customer.
What should these touches look like? In the business community, narratives such as case studies enable prospects to participate in the story, which makes them more open to internalizing a marketer's messages.
For example, marketers seeking to generate prospects and build awareness should focus on creating content that educates and informs. At this stage, most prospects are researching vendors to learn more about a topic or product category. They respond well to best practices white papers and research reports.
Once prospects identify themselves as a lead—by registering for a download or attending a virtual or live event—marketers bring them into the consideration/short list phase. To take them to this next level, the content provided should be richer and give a deeper understanding of the offering. Case studies, testimonials and demos show expertise and build trust in the company.
As prospects get closer to a purchase decision, marketers can help them build a business case by providing evidence demonstrating their products as the right choice, whether by cost savings, improved results or mitigated risks.
The content-focused outlook does not end once a prospect becomes a customer. Instead, the objective focuses on retention with an eye toward building long-term relationships, and turning customers into advocates. At this point, marketers should develop content that continues to inspire customers and convinces them to buy more.
Importantly, marketers that want customers to become advocates must design content easily shareable via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or other social platforms. There’s more to creating a good narrative than just hiring a writer. Marketers first need to rethink how they perceive their customers and prospects. Traditional business-to-business lead generation programs focus on groups segmented by job title, company size, or other demographics.
Telling stories that cut across demographics can expand the market potential and create multiple touch points. Doing so enables marketers to better target messages among customers and prospects. Marketers can then segment based on where a prospect is in the purchase funnel—awareness, research, consideration, etc.—and bring to bear more specific storytelling that delivers real value.
Content plans and schedule must deliver different types of content based on where a prospect or customer is in the sales funnel. Delivering an increasingly deeper level of content will enhance permission-based relationship with prospects: The more they ask for content, the stronger the relationship becomes. The ability to nurture prospects and customers with highly relevant content builds trust, affinity and loyalty—and drives sales.