Converged Media Imperative

Converged media has been a hot topic the last two years and is picking up speed in 2013. This concept represents a blurring of the lines between the three types of media: paid, earned and owned.

I don’t think there are many who would disagree that this is happening and will continue. But another important issue is: What type of marketing professional will flourish in this environment and bring added value to his or her brand?

A word that comes to mind to describe this professional is: diverse. Fluency only in a single area, be it advertising, public relations, social media, branding or others is career and brand limiting. The value add comes from multi-disciplinary professionals who understand all of the converging types of media at the strategic and tactical levels and can fit them into a bigger, more seamless picture.

The disciplinary silos must come down. They should be replaced collaborative, cross-functional teams that can work together across the media spectrum.

All of this doesn’t mean specialization has no place. It simply means marketers must adapt and grow in their understanding of media, and work together more effectively. Converged media demands it.

Are Marketing Execs Falling Behind When it Comes to Digital?

Are marketing execs falling behind when it comes to digital?

It’s a digital horse race and marketing execs aren’t running.

Here’s an interesting post from Mark Schaefer that would indicate that perhaps marketing execs still don’t place the same level of importance on digital marketing when compared to more traditional marketing channels.

Schaefer’s post is based on a Harvard Business Review report that stated only nine companies in the Fortune 500 would be regarded as having a “highly digital” orientation.

Couple this finding with reports that digital media spending still significantly trails traditional spending and it would cause one to wonder how much importance marketing execs place on digital. And this is given the fact that digital media channels are growing much more rapidly than traditional.

A couple factors could be hindering digital growth in the marketing world: 1.) The reluctance of some execs to change and 2.) The need for a better demonstration of ROI from digital media.

I think everyone agrees that digital will move forward. The question is how quickly will it grow in the marketing world?

Extreme Brand Makeover: Three Key Elements

For some companies, rebranding is a smart move and it’s usually clear to see that it’s needed. For other companies, the decision to rebrand or to stand pat isn’t as clear. I think too many companies may be jumping the rebranding gun when they don’t really need to. Whether it’s needed or not needed put aside, it should always be undertaken with great care to have the desired impact of really moving the impression of the brand in a new direction within its market.

Having been through several rebrandings in my career, it gets my attention when a company chooses this path. Enter T-Mobile, a brand that has fallen on hard times of late and this week will launch its rebranding campaign.

Kunur Patel, reporter for Ad Age, recently wrote “T-Mobile Talks Tough for Its Comeback, Vowing ‘No More Mr. Nice Girl.’” In the piece she provides a helpful narrative of the creative:

Carly Foulkes, the leggy brunette who has starred in T-Mobile’s ads since 2010 and been dubbed by some a DVR-proof pitch personality, is trading her usual frocks for biker leather as the wireless carrier looks to halt mass subscriber defections and uncertainty following AT&T‘s failed takeover bid. The commercial, “Alter Ego,” makes its debut this week. It finds Carly, after tearing up her closet, emerging in a black-leather jumpsuit and riding away on a motorcycle.

Although there are many considerations when rebranding, here are three key elements that must be addressed with great caution, research and planning for a successful campaign:

  1. Identification of a strong value proposition that has significant meaning to the market and that will change perceptions and drive action.
  1. Ensuring there is brand ownership of that value proposition (does the product or service truly deliver the value proposition to at least meet, but better yet exceed expectations?).
  1. The supporting creative must be new and attention getting and reinforce a change in thinking about the brand.

To be sure, although T-Mobile is using the “face” of the brand, its creative is a radical departure for the company. We can only trust that the brand executives have completed their due diligence in making the choice to rebrand, selecting their value proposition and devising their creative. Will the campaign help the brand? Only time will tell.

What would you add?

Digital Advertising in Need of Innovation

An Outdated Model

When you think about it, given the speed of growth in the digital and in social media worlds, advertising really hasn’t kept pace. For the most part, many media sites continue to offer only standard ad units for displaying content. It’s a model that is badly in need of innovation.

Digital consumers today are bombarded with information. So much so that they are becoming more and more adept at ignoring old-hat advertising practices. Let’s face it, there’s only much so attention to go around. When consumers are online, they are usually seeking very specific content in the shortest amount of time. Brand advertising stands little chance of gaining far-reaching and meaningful attention in the decades-old format used now.

The Need for Change

The conundrum for brands is that there aren’t many new options out there. More and more people are spending more time online, yet they are usually seeking helpful content, not ads. Attempts to get attention, the first step needed in order to deliver a message, often go ignored. What’s worse is that attempts to interrupt, prevent or delay them from getting the information they want can annoy the consumer. I know I always very much enjoy the experience of a large display ad appearing after I expected to receive the content I clicked. Not so much.

Death of the Page View

Yet, brands have been content with page views as advertising metric. An article on Ad Age by Erik Farkas of appsavvy lays out a nice explanation of the shortcomings of page views. Here’s part of what he wrote:

“Historically the way to drive more ad dollars has been to increase page views, but this practice has invariably made ads less valuable. This style of page-view advertising is becoming a business model of the past. You’ve probably read the countless stats showing that a majority of display ads are being ignored by consumers, including: “31 percent of ad impressions were never in view of the consumer,” “43 percent of consumers ignore internet banner ads,” and “88 percent of ads in apps are ignored by users.” For the love of advertising, there’s a different study released every week that devalues online advertising and gives our industry a bad name.”

Matters of Importance

There are plenty of tricks media can play to increase the number of page views reported to advertisers. The number of times a page was viewed tells little. Of more importance are issues such as:

  • Was the ad seen and interacted with?
  • Did the ad impact brand perception?
  • Did the ad drive action?

Media need to be more innovative in the ways they deliver and measure advertising effectiveness. Brands need to assist in that process by encouraging the development of new advertising models and demanding the delivery of greater return on investment.

Leading Examples of Change

Social media currently is leading in new methods for online advertising. Twitter’s “Promoted Tweet” program and Facebook’s “Sponsored Stories” offer an advertising experience that features better integration with the surrounding platform, better user experience, less intrusion and solid targeting.

In fact, Facebook will soon take another positive step by introducing its new and upgraded Premium Ads. The new ad platform will include several features that will be much more appealing to brands, including:

More visually pleasing format

A more inviting content focus vs. brand messaging

More opportunities for consumer engagement

Clearer endorsements by friends

Greater opportunity to increase the number of brand page fans and overall engagement

The new ads should be very well received by advertisers and are a good example of what other sites need to begin to offer.

As it stands, being present online as a brand is better than not being there at all. Much more development of digital advertising models is needed however to offer brands the value they deserve.

What do you think?

Influencing the Shifting Landscape of Buyer Behavior

When you purchase a product or service, has your process changed over the last five years? Or say even in the last year? Especially in the case of new products or large purchases, most people would say their decision-making process has changed significantly. McKinsey & Co. has developed a great model to help illustrate how consumers currently make purchase decisions, titled the “Consumer Decision Journey.”

Here are the steps in the Consumer Decision Journey:

  • Consideration: The consumer is aware of a list of products or brands from which he or she can make the purchase.
  • Evaluation: The consumer investigates the options in terms of pros and cons in pricing, channels and any of a number of features and benefits that are desired.
  • Buy: The decision is made and the purchase is completed.
  • Experience: The consumer experiences the product or service and is very satisfied or very dissatisfied or any point in between.
  • Advocate: If the consumer is very satisfied or satisfied, it’s likely he or she will advocate for the product or service.
  • Bond: The consumer becomes a brand loyalist. When a purchase must be made again, he or she will bypass the consideration and evaluation stage and go directly to purchase from the brand of choice.

These steps nicely capture the way many purchases are made today. What’s more, much of the evaluation stage takes on place online on company websites, social media, communities and other digital platforms.

Given the current digital environment, advocacy is also taken to an entirely new level of importance. Consumers now have the ability to communicate their satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) with many people very quickly.

The problem is, if recent studies are accurate, brands are not proportionately increasing spending in the digital environment, where the vitally important evaluation and advocacy steps often take place. Instead, spending continues to be heavily focused on the more traditional “push” methods of marketing. This suggests too much emphasis is being placed on the consideration step, with the hope that the buyer will move directly to a purchase.

Times are changing and will continue to change. Greater emphasis must be placed on influencing the evaluation and advocacy steps in the buying process. Long gone are the days when consumers were forced to accept push marketing messages at face value. The consumer is now empowered to make informed decisions. Brands must adapt to this changing buying behavior or risk getting left behind.

Let me know what you think.

Patagonia Says Don’t Buy Our Jacket

It’s hard for me not to notice when I see a company say not to buy its product. In fact, I don’t recall ever seeing that prior to last week. That’s when I came across this Patagonia email from Cyber Monday that was shared on Google+ by Spin Sucks.

The immediate reaction is: “What are they thinking”? But this is actually a great piece of marketing on Patagonia’s part. It grabs attention (not an easy task for email marketers). It demonstrates the company’s concern for the environment. And it does all of this while clearly differentiating its product. Whether you endorse the strategy or not, you have to agree it’s creative.

I’ll admit the email may not move the sales needle as much in the short term. After all, they’re saying we shouldn’t buy their stuff! When I do need a jacket, however, the email might just spur me on to check out their jacket, and maybe even buy it.

What do you think?

How to Ensure Great Marketing Execution

What’s the easiest way to sink a marketing campaign? You guessed it: poor execution. Many marketers focus extensively on strategy, which they should. But problems can begin to emerge when strategy is the sole focus at the expense of the tactics that will be executed. A good strategy and tactics often lead to a winning marketing campaign, but good strategy and poor tactical execution almost always lead to failure.

With this in mind, how can we promote great execution of our marketing campaigns? Think in terms of the three T’s of execution: time, talent and testing.

  • Time – Great execution takes time. Rushing inevitably leads to second best or even mistakes. Good creative and planning should be well thought out, which is difficult to do if there isn’t adequate time. Make sure to build in appropriate timelines for each stage of execution to ensure the best results.
  • Talent – Use the appropriate professionals for each part of the process, including writers, designers, photographers, videographers, media professionals and any other professional that’s needed. Many professionals bring skills in several of these areas. Utilize as much talent as possible for the best results.
  • Testing – A great way to make sure you’ve hit the mark with your execution is to test it, and on people in your target market if possible. This will allow you to validate that your work is quality or provide an opportunity to tweak it if necessary before going to market.

There’s no way around it; great execution is critical to great results. Getting this right is worth every minute you will put into it. Don’t waste a great strategy. Take any and every means needed to match it with great execution.

Let me know your thoughts on this important aspect of marketing.