Contemporary markets are highly engaged on social and generating peer-to-peer recommendations which increasingly inform the consumer decision journey. Organizations must know how to use these channels to have a voice in that conversation.
That said, there are many different types of digital communities, with varying degrees of depth and potential for audience engagement. These run the gamut from very large social networks (e.g., Facebook and Twitter) with enable somewhat shallow engagement with a broad audience, all the way down to much smaller virtual communities (e.g., Circle of Moms, Rigid Forum) which dive deeply into niche areas of interest where more intimate engagement through content and thought leadership is possible.
Based on an understanding of an organization’s objectives, and the communities frequented by its customers, savvy digital marketers will craft strategies leveraging the strength of these channels to speak to their audience in an authentic voice.
This was a fun discovery introduced by the course. The Cluetrain Manifesto is a work of business literature first posted to the web back in 1999 as 95 theses, published the following year in book form as a series of seven essays.
Though fifteen years old, its assertions are not only still relevant, but have been magnified in importance by the proliferation of mobile/social media.
The manifesto’s 95 Theses speaks to the company in the voice of the customer, and doesn’t mince words. I highly recommend anyone in corporate leadership and marketing give it a thoughtful read. Below are twelve of my favorites:
Conversations among human beings sound human. They are conducted in a human voice
There are no secrets. The networked market knows more than companies do about their own products – and whether the news is good or bad, they tell everyone
Companies that speak in the language of the pitch, the dog-and-pony show, are no longer speaking to anyone
Companies that assume online markets are the same markets that used to watch their ads on television are kidding themselves
To speak with a human voice, companies must share the concerns of their communities
Smart companies will get out of the way and help the inevitable to happen sooner
We like this new marketplace much better – in fact, we are creating it
You want us to pay? We want you to pay attention
We want you to take 50 million of us as seriously as you take one reporter from The Wall Street Journal
When we have questions we turn to each other for answers. If you didn’t have such a tight rein on “your people” maybe they’d be among the people we’d turn to
Our allegiance is to ourselves—our friends, our new allies and acquaintances, even our sparring partners. Companies that have no part in this world, also have no future
We are waking up and linking to each other. We are watching. But we are not waiting
The proliferation of smartphones and high-speed mobile internet has changed the marketing landscape forever. Over 70% of Americans have mobile phones, which are always-on and always-on-hand.
Consumers are decreasingly influenced by traditional marketing channels (e.g., circular, broadcast, and POP) and are more than ever using mobile technology to inform buying decisions. Therefore, marketing is increasingly digital and fueled by analytics, giving the data-geeks a seat at the table with the strategists and creatives.
This post provides a quick summary of how it all happened, concluding with four tips on how to make the most of the digital marketing landscape going forward.
Proctor and Gamble defined the “First Moment of Truth” paradigm, which asserted that the consumer decision making process was largely won by in-store marketing (which really reminds me of e-commerce’s last-click attribution). P&G even went as far as to create the position of “Director of FMOT” and a 15-person team to create solutions designed to “win over customers in the first three to seven seconds of the shopping experience”
Over the next few years Geeks in Marketing will become one of the most disruptive force in a discipline that traditionally was driven by big creative personalities
Apple released the iPhone, beginning the shift from feature-phones to smart phones
McKinsey published their framework of the Consumer Decision Journey, with the “Moment of Purchase” corresponding to P&G’s the “First Moment of Truth”
Google published their “Zero Moment of Truth” framework, asserting that the consumer purchase decision is increasingly won during the active evaluation phase (done increasingly on smart phones), before the actual moment of purchase (First Moment of Truth)
Technology usage in the active evaluation process has expanded, with many consumers consulting 10 or more sources before a purchase, frequently through their smart phones (and often in-store).
Ironically, reverse-showrooming or “webrooming” is a growing trend, with consumers checking online for product information and reviews before going to a brick-and-mortar location to buy.
In the new digital age, it’s no longer realistic or smart to judge campaigns solely by the final point-of-sale interaction. Marketers must utilize the data generated by consumers in the evaluation phase to craft their engagement strategy to win the purchase decision before the first moment of truth arrives.
To again quote Fassnacht, who has proven to be something of a prophet, had this to say about the role of marketing geeks in winning what would later be called the Zero Moment of Truth:
The staggering growth of available customer data, and the proliferation of technology tools enable us to decipher and explain patterns better. But how will the rise of the Geek influence the practice of Marketing? I suggest three key changes:
More and more marketers in more and more meetings will ask the question: “What does the data tell us?” This will change how marketing programs are designed, and executed!
The sophistication level of any marketing dialog between companies, agencies, and 3rd parties will rise due to a data and number centric foundation that everyone will share (hopefully)
The currently dominant strategic and creative forces within marketing will learn how to share the power of decision making with more and more Geeks. I believe that this will make the creative better and more relevant for the consumer instead of pleasing the personal preferences of some executives within a Fortune 2000 company
Taking this to heart, the most successful marketing teams will be the ones who are able to marry successfully the three key tribes of marketers:
The Strategist/Account Guy
The Marketing Geek
Such teams will be able to best capitalize on the opportunity afforded by the “Zero Moment of Truth” by doing the following four things: (source)
1. Use search to uncover and understand the moments that matter
Long before many brand managers even knew what they were, consumers were searching for things like “greek yogurt,” “BB cream,” and “ombre hair.” If you had to guess what kind of stain is searched for most, would you know the answer? Overwhelmingly, it’s “red wine stains.”
Do you know what’s in the collective mind of consumers right now? (Answer: coconut oil). The trick is to use search to identify the moments that matter to consumers and act on them across your entire marketing mix.
2. Be present in the moments that matter
Woody Allen is often credited with saying, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” This is especially true when it comes to digital. You can’t be a helpful brand partner and improve the lives of consumers if you’re not present in the moments they need you most. And increasingly, these moments are happening on smartphones.
On mobile, do you know how many people are searching for your brand? Your category? How many of those times do you show up? How many times do they choose you, and why? Most importantly, how many times does your competitor show up, but you don’t?
3. Have something interesting, relevant and/or engaging to say
We’ve established that you need to have an answer to these many consumer moments, but do you have the “right” answer? And does your ad provide the best possible experience across screens? Links to products may not be enough to hook consumers. Your ads should provide an experience that’s as informative and entertaining as possible: links to rich content on your website and opportunities to engage on Facebook or watch videos on YouTube, for example.
4. Measure the impact
You’ve managed to successfully capture the Zero Moment of Truth. Now what? To what degree does a ZMOT win advance business KPIs such as awareness, consideration, purchase intent, trial and repeat and purchase considerations?
Brands that are committed to the Zero Moment of Truth—the ones that use search to uncover and understand the moments that matter, that show up, that provide the right mobile-relevant answers and that measure the impact—stand to gain a competitive advantage. More importantly, they can help consumers when they need it most. At the end of the day, what matters more?
Many businesses have fallen behind on consumer behavior. In a world where people look first to mobile devices and real-time streams, the digital journey has grown more complex, and it’s become more challenging to gain a clear picture of these interactions. Success depends on adapting to this new reality, and analytics is a key to successful evolution.
Lunar Eclipse. 09/27/2015, about 9:00 PM Central Standard Time. Last one like it until 2033.
Condolences to those of you where it was cloudy. It was a really cool thing to see – an at a reasonable hour too!
Now back to the books.
While an undergrad at Memphis State, I was obliged to fit in my classes and school work around a full-time job where I worked no less than 50 hours per week. Later, I did grad-school at night over three years while managing an extremely demanding marcom production operation at RadioShack in Fort Worth. This has been my first experience where I’ve been able to focus on my education full-time. Its so much EASIER! Who knew right?
This latest course on digital marketing channels contained four modules, focused on the following disciplines:
Best practices for successful online copywriting and SEO, how specialized search can affect rankings, and how to plan, set up, and run your own search campaign.
Where to place your online advertising, the process of producing successful online videos, and paid, earned, and owned methods of promoting online video.
Best ways to engage with audiences on social channels, social media strategy creation and execution, how to plan and execute an email campaign, and the effective campaign measurement.
Mobile messaging channels and applications, the role that mobile plays in an integrated marketing strategy, how to track mobile activity, how to optimize your digital plan, and the best practices in digital.
As the capstone course doesn’t open until November 1st, I’ve registered for a Social Media Marketing series offered by Northwestern University, and a couple Data Analytics courses offered by Johns Hopkins University (Data Analysis Toolkit and Programming in R). Unfortunately, those don’t open up until next Monday.
I kid you not, I go to sleep and dream about multi-channel funnels, goal-flow reports, social media strategy and KPIs, only to wake up thinking about how companies in my area are applying these concepts (or have yet to apply them) in their marketing and business development efforts. Fun but bordering on obsession!
During this morning’s 5K on the treadmill I also took in the first five video-tutorials on R Programming, authored by Bucky Roberts and served up via The New Boston. Based on my past Excel-based analytics, Access and FileMaker application development experience I can already tell I’m going to love R as a programming and analytics tool. Bucky does a great job presenting in a humorous, informative and easy-to-understand manner. I highly recommend his videos for anyone interested in learning R as part of their digital marketing and analytics journey.
After that, while I’m waiting for the capstone course to open, I’ll either be diving into Google Analytics Academy or the John Hopkins Data Science Specialization, which includes courses on R Programming, Data Cleaning, and Data Analysis. I’m not sure if I’m going to dive into the full specialization, or just cherry-pick the courses that I think will be relevant to day-to-day employment. That’s a big advantage of MOOC-based learning. You don’t have to take university-mandated electives that consume time and money without contributing skills and experience that actually help you get a job. Time to pop that “college bubble“.
Over the past week I’ve discovered that the world of marketing hit something of an inflection point about five years ago, where the increasing ubiquity of smartphones combined with the explosive growth of social networks and proliferation of high-speed internet (including wireless data), accelerated a massive shift from traditional media channels to digital channels used by marketers to reach audiences. I was too preoccupied with managing print-based marcom production at RadioShack to fully appreciate what was happening.
Like the old saying goes, “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is today.” The same could be said for getting traction with digital marketing. Like my dad used to say, “There’s no time like the present.”
The marketing channel landscape has already changed drastically. If you don’t believe me, watch this video by Eric Qualman for a quick snapshot of the size of the landslide.
This course focused on a number of subjects, including; Co-Creation, Doppleganger Brands, Authenticity, New Retail, Pay What You Want, and Price Comparison Tools.
Some favorite highlights from the course touched on Co-Creation, Doppleganger Brand Images, and Authenticity – with some thoughts and examples detailed below.
Co-Creation Gone Wild: Local Motors’ “Rally Fighter”
Local Motors’ Rally Fighter: A car designed and built by customers.
Local Motors was founded in 2007 at Chandler, AZ by Harvard MBA, John Rogers. The vision of the company is to drive community engagement in order to facilitate innovation through open collaboration in order to drive faster, more cost-effective, more thorough product development to drive improved safety and quality. Local Motors engaged their customers for feedback and design suggestions to inform development of the Rally Fighter.
I’m reminded of the proverb, “A camel is a horse designed by committee.” Compared to the more familiar passenger-car, the Rally Fighter has an odd and unfamiliar bearing that suggest a very different evolutionary history.
Its a camel and I love it.
Unfortunately, the Rally Fighter will not be successful as a mass-market vehicle due to the design, price, and self-assembly requirement. However, it could find success among enthusiasts, hobbyists, and collectors – if they exist in sufficient numbers to supply Local Motors with demand. If I had the money, time and facilities I would certainly want to buy and build one, for the experience and the pride of owning such a unique and distinctive creation.
This case reminds me of another upstart car maker, Tesla. A key difference is the Fighter is based on a traditional GM power-train, whereas the Tesla is based on electric-drive, considered the future of the industry. (This recent article) indicates Local Motors is experimenting with electric power-train solutions, though very early-on in the process. Incorporating electric power-train technology into future designs will contribute to the long-term value proposition of the company.
Elon Musk was able to back Tesla using capital from prior successful ventures. Local Motors’ continued success will require ongoing access to funding and increased market share, achieved by a lower price-point or an assembled version. Limited buyer-ship with sufficient aptitude and the money will constrain demand. The complexity and price limit the product to a market similar to that for light-aircraft (e.g., Cessna)
One solve may be for Local Motors to develop strategic associations with a network of shops which could execute the assembly for would-be buyers, removing that as a barrier to purchase.
I love the approach to design and the final product. Finding sufficient demand compatible with the business model is the greatest concern. That said, the Rally Fighter stands as a brilliant example of the type of innovation in product design made possible through co-creation.
Doppelgänger Brand Image (D.B.I.)
As part of the user-generated-content segment, I added a section the Wikipedia entry for Brand to define the issue of Doppelgänger Brand Images, which can be a real problem for companies with large, recognizable brands.
A doppelgänger brand image or “DBI” is a disparaging image or story about a brand that it circulated in popular culture. DBI targets tend to be widely known and recognizable brands. The purpose of DBIs is to undermine the positive brand meanings the brand owners are trying to instill through their marketing activities.
The term stems from the combination of the German words doppel (double) and gänger (walker).
Doppelgänger brands are typically created by individuals or groups to express criticism of a brand and its perceived values, through a form of parody, and are typically unflattering in nature.
Due to the ability of Doppelgänger brands to rapidly propagate virally through digital media channels, they can represent a real threat to the equity of the target brand. Sometimes the target organization is forced to address the root concern or to re-position the brand in a way that defuses the criticism.
Joe Chemo campaign organized to criticize the marketing of tobacco products to children and their harmful effects.
The FUH2 campaign protesting the Hummer SUV as a symbol of corporate and consumer irresponsibility toward public safety and the environment
The site features a gallery of over 5,000 user submitted images like this one
For marketers, the most valuable takeaway is the realization that a doppelgänger brand image can be a benefit to a brand, if taken as an early warning sign that the brand is losing emotional authenticity with its market – and it’s time to take action to address the issue.
What resonated most strongly with me was the importance of authenticity in marketing and brand management. In a digitally interconnected marketplace, firms must be true to the messages they share with their market, or face the consequences. Bad service, disengenuous PR, poor quality, or harmful product will be outed, spreading virally and rapidly – punishing the offender.
Notable, recent social-media fails such as JP Morgan’s ill ‘snarkopolypse’-triggering #AskJPM or the New York Police Department’s PR disaster #myNYPD are just two horrifying (and all too common) examples of campaigns from very large, well-resourced organizations that are definitely big enough to know better.
Popular tweets from the #askJPM ‘Snarkpocalypse’
One of the more popular re-tweets from the unfortunate #myNYPD Twitter debacle.
Or, at least be aware of what the public perception of your business is. You may not always like what you will see if you dig deep, but the first step to fixing negative public perception is to identify how your audience feels about you.
Never forget that social media is the great equalizer
When you are constructing your social media marketing plan, never forget that you do not control the conversation, and that what you want may not the thing you wind up with. Your audience doesn’t care about “building your brand” or promoting your agenda. They are people who care about the things going on in their own lives. When they come to social media, they want to be entertained or informed.
Social media is not the place to win new fans
A brand jumping in and trying to chat up new folks is really invasive, and social media users resent it when you do it. Instead, develop social media marketing ideas that focus on building value for the customers you already have and for curious stumblers. Worry about the value of your content and its message, and let the audience flock to you.
Authenticity is Everything
Social media can be a powerful tool but it can be a double-edged sword that can hurt your brand a lot. A poor social media marketing plan can be a ticking time bomb. Make sure you understand the medium and understand your audience. You need only #AskJPM what happens if you jump in without accessing the situation first.