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Digital marketing in a laboratory?

Photo from Digital Marketing Lab in Singapore, 2014
On of the many active, collaborative, parts of the Digital Marketing Lab in Singapore, 2014.

Earlier this year I was in Singapore running a 4-day lab on digital marketing. Running it as in collaborating with Hyper Island (and the wonderful Maria, who’s responsible for the Labs within Hyper Island) in tailoring the different parts of the content around which to, well, lab.

Other labs include rapid prototyping and social – both very suitable to do hands-on lab type of workshops, especially rapid prototyping of course. Our first collective challenge with this lab was actually figuring out the labs ingredient.

A laboratory (/ləˈbɒrətəri/ or /ˈlæbərətri/; informally, lab) is a facility that provides controlled conditions in which scientific or technological research,experiments, and measurement may be performed.

We were definitely in a controlled environment. For 4 full days in a large, open, area approximately 20 people with different backgrounds worked together. Representatives from Google, business consultants figuring out what to do next, community managers, account directors, digital creatives and even recruitment professionals. We were experimenting with propositions, hypotheses and opinions – all open for debate. Hypotheses around how organisations needed to, perhaps, rethink and reorganize how marketing was viewed, budgeted and executed. Very much perceptions of what has been true, but not necessarily anymore.

One key challenge we gave the participants was a hands-on assignment – a brief – from a multinational brand, very much recognized for having momentum and guts to rethink its existence and purpose. Both from a consumer product/brand point of view, but also from an organizational sustainability point of view. This assignment was evaluated by key representatives from the company (the measurement part). My role very much being that of a nudger, suggester, questioner. Without digging into the ideas – there were some really great stuff, some of it actually already in the pipeline within that organisation which says something about its commercial viability. Impressive.

A participant’s recap and reflections on the digital marketing lab

I’m not going to share anything detailed, because one of the participants has shared a quite extensive summary of the digital marketing lab. It’s one individual’s summary, and someone else might recall it differently. But what strikes me is how some of the content that I shared (Simon Kemp of We Are Social, Singapore also shared his) is obviously referred to and has thankfully been helpful. I like that.

Posting your video on YouTube does not make it Digital Storytelling. Building a story of your brand, creating an experience, a feeling, a journey (that holds together across platforms), something worth remembering – and telling others about. That’s digital storytelling

But. If I were to highlight a few key nuggets that I keep coming back to as fundamentally important, from the digital marketing lab but also from doing presentations and workshops (and everyday work) around digital strategy (challenges), they’d be a bit different and framed in another way. Which brings me to the conclusion that I probably need to get my stuff together and share it in a properly packaged and connected manner. Easy to share with more people. Easy for people who have been in workshops to access and refresh or get clarification.

So, in a while I suppose this will be a link to the first of a series of post. Which means this post about a lab participant’s post is a trailer for posts to come.

Patagonia, are you asking us not to buy?

I recently bought a Patagonia jacket. Which made me think of this. Worn Wear. Not just the fact that they do in fact become stories and memories, but the reaction from a lot of people when Patagonia explicitly encourages people not to buy their clothes.

I can hear proponents of the concept of brand loyalists scream. Of sales people squirming in their chairs. But it all aligns beautifully with how brands grow, and how brands can resonate, if we think about it.

Aware Patagonia loyalists, because it’s quite likely one of the fairly few brands who actually have real loyalists. Those who go quite far to stick to Patagonia. But those people are few, and they’re most likely very environmentally conscious already.

Another thing is about the message here. It’s not so much about the message, even though it’s very clear, true, and firmly positions the brand as a true “do good brand” with a purpose beyond making quick bucks. But it’s also about how they make this public. It’s so real. There’s not an ounce of fake in here even coming from a brand. I wrote/commented a few lines on how brands publicise themselves creatively here.

And with this in mind, lets just remind ourselves that there’s always people out there, however environmentally conscious or unconscious they might be, in the market for a new jacket and pants. And those people can buy from a number of brands (except for the exceptionally small group of die hard loyalists), all of which would suit their needs. The question is about who do they come to think of first? Who resonates more?

A few of those people might take you up, reconsider, and get used clothes or maybe even repair what they have. That’s a win for Patagonia. But enough people will get something new.

So, as Byron Sharp and other myth-busting researchers have pointed out to us – go for penetration, because the potential buyers are everywhere. They’re not loyal, they’re just likely buyers, to a varying degree.

What Patagonia does isn’t risky, it’s doubly good (and they’re f***ing awesome).

weak positioning; drinks for women, undrinkable for women

Stuff like this makes me go oh come on! An energy drink for women that should be avoided by pregnant women. Important to note is that there are energy drinks, not aimed at women specifically, that are all right for pregnant women to drink. Now that’s a disconnect between product and marketing if I ever saw one.

An energy drink for women, that should not be drunk by pregnant women

social media the organisational change agent


Photo thanks to riklomas

I came across two new reports on how connectedness, new touchpoints and feedback loops are affecting organisations, the marketing function and “where it sits”, and also increased customer centricity. They sum up the greater context, and the combined reasons, for some of the organisational changes (or needs for) that need to happen. One report from McKinsey (We Are All Marketers Now) and one from Forrester commissioned by Dell (Social Listening).

Forrester found that organizations across various industries that have implemented listening and digital engagement initiatives are starting to see impressive business returns.
– Forrester

You often hear negative voices on showing ROI from social media within marketing and it’s a fair point because getting measurements right isn’t that easy and, obviously, neither is actually generating a positive ROI. But a positive ROI should be delivered through social media implemented into, and used by, the whole organisation and not just marketing, which changes the ROI conversation, the investments and the over-all value it brings. You might even argue that it redefines marketing, which is what McKinsey are arguing.

In the era of engagement, marketing is the company… In essence, companies need to become marketing vehicles, and the marketing organization itself needs to become the customer-engagement engine…
– McKinsey

In today’s marketing environment, companies will be better off if they stop viewing customer engagement as a series of discrete interactions and instead think about it as customers do: a set of related interactions that, added together, make up the customer experience.
– McKinsey

Which means there’s an increased need for designed and coherent interactions that stem from a better agreed understanding of who the brand is and its meaning in people’s lives. If it’s too much for one person to be responsible for customer engagement, then companies (realistically larger size ones) might consider having one for every function within the organisation, who can then liaise with each other in order to cross the boundaries that exist between sales, marketing, customer service etc.

The marketing organisations new look, 4 key dimensions identified by McKinsey

Distribute more activities
If marketing is the company, the distribution of marketing activities changes.

More councils and partnerships
As distribution of activities change, new needs for synchronization and collaboration cross-boundaries emerge.

Elevate the role of customer insights
With more and better feedback loops and data waiting to be tapped – all aspects of the company can and must benefit.

More data rich and analytically intense
Apparently Zynga generates and captures five terabytes of customer data every day. Wow!

Helping companies understand and benefit from social media is enough to realise that we’re looking at some major organisational issues. It’s all organisational, and organisations are tricky. It’s complex and it’s slow. It means shifting incentives, responsibilities and accountabilities. Many companies are going to have huge problems for a long time, and some companies offering organisational change management are going to get rich…

Social media is helping bring companies closer together internally, and perhaps it’s even the strongest catalyst for better cooperation, cross-department co-operation and incentivising for over-all collaboration. Quite an important roll.