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March 2010 Archives

March 24 2010 8:59 AM

Brand guardians

There is a lot of talk about orangutans and Nestlé, these days. Most of it on Facebook. If you have been living in a tropical forest for the last week and have missed it, it concerns Nestlé‘s alleged deforestation of Indonesia in order to grow more palm oil to make Kitkats [please forgive the over-simplification].

People started complaining via the Facebook fan page [oh, the irony…] and the poor moderator had to deal with a deluge of hateposts.

It’s not about orangutans, it’s about brands

Now, the environmental issue itself is well documented. But of equal interest from a marketing perspective is how this illustrates the weakened power of brands, and the impossible job of the brand guardian - in this case, the Facebook page moderator.

Not only is he fighting on very shaky moral ground in trying to defend the indefensible, but he is also fighting against the might of the social media movement.

There is a belief that social media has liberated the masses to rise against the oppression of the big brands, who used to control the flow of information. So any brand that dares to try to wrest back that control is going to die the death of a thousand electronic cuts as social media users shriek in outrage.

A schoolboy error by Nestlé

The Facebook moderator got it horribly wrong of course. He began by suggesting those commenters with avatars based on the Nestlé logo were infringing copyright by doing so. He was right, of course, but this wasn’t the right thing to say. When challenged, he simply got a bit angry and ended up insulting them and resorting to control tactics, ie threatening to delete posts that don’t confirm. This is the social media equivalent of taking your football home if you’re not allowed to play centre-forward.

So what are brand guardians to do? Social media is all about open communications, so do you just have to sit there and get shot at? Of course not, but brands - especially those who give people lots of reasons to dislike them - really have to think hard about how [and why] they expose themselves, as well as how they will defend themselves.

Thoughtful, reasoned discourse is the only way. But how much resource does this take up? Can Nestlé‘s lead environmental consultant really spend 8 hours a day online? Clearly not, but there has to be a better way than railing against users.

The rise of social media has changed the habitat for big brands. They are the dinosaurs, ill-equipped to deal with the new landscape, outmanoeuvred by small, furry, online users. The metaphor ends there, but the problems for brands like Nestlé will continue…

Does anyone have a solution?

March 22 2010 12:00 PM

Back yourself to win

Technology has brought about many changes to the way we market and sell products: profiling and targeting techniques, personalisation, tracking and analytics are just a few. It’s the last of these, however, that in my mind has brought about the real revolution. Today, we can track almost all marketing activities from start to finish, from search to lead, from click to phone call, and this gives us a new level of control over the decisions we make and the results we generate.

Surely, therefore, marketing agencies should be willing to be more accountable for the results they deliver? Apparently not. Most agencies, even in the totally measurable on-line marketing world, still persist in working on a time and money or mark-up basis, taking minimal responsibility for delivering results and hitting targets and being paid regardless of success or failure. It’s not totally agencies’ fault, though. Many clients are happy to work in this way, even those who themselves have defined targets, and who’s to argue with someone willing to work in the same old way if everyone’s comfortable with it?

Well, me for one. I’m glad to say that more and more clients are now asking about accountability, but where they don’t, I will always ask the question: “What is the ultimate goal of this campaign, and how can it be quantified?” In the world of B2B almost everyone is looking to generate leads, and I believe that there is therefore every argument for setting goals in terms of lead generation or another performance metric, and defining at least a part of potential earnings around an agreed target such as cost per lead. Why? Well here are 10 reasons for a start:

  1. It’s an excellent sales message. Rather than ‘Pay us because we’re worth it’, you are saying ‘Pay us when we show you we’re worth it. If we don’t succeed, you don’t pay.’
  2. Because accountability encourages excellence. By taking responsibility not just for the campaign but for the results, you ensure 100% commitment from start to finish. It’s not just about what it looks like - it has to deliver too!
  3. Because you have more overall control over your campaigns. If you are taking responsibility for the outcome, then you should have an influence over all elements leading to that outcome. Imagine running a campaign where you build the email, but the client builds the landing page. You can only control whether people reach the page and not whether they fill in the form, and so can’t be held responsible for the results. When working on a performance basis, you have every justification in being involved in the whole process and can therefore feel comfortable about the outcome.
  4. Because you can run all the tests you want, if you can justify the investment. If you’re being paid on results, it’s up to you what you do to deliver, but this does mean that you can do things your way. Clearly you still need to follow guidelines etc, but you don’t have to worry about the client’s budgets.
  5. Because you can decide which channels to use rather than being limited to what the client thinks is relevant. There’s nothing more frustrating than pitching for an email campaign when you know that PPC will also deliver. When working on a performance basis, all that matters to the client is the leads you deliver, so if you’re willing to pay for the clicks, they will be happy to receive the leads.
  6. Although you are sharing the risk, you should be able to be confident about delivering. Why? Because, in order to reach the point of agreeing a cost per lead or other performance metric, you will have already calculated that you can make money and a difference to your client’s business at the agreed levels. Either that, or you’re so desperate for business that you’re willing to take an unreasonable risk!
  7. Potentially there’s no top end to what you can earn. Of course it depends on what you agree with the client, but if for instance you’re delivering leads and the quality remains the same, there’s no reason you can’t beat targets and earn more than originally budgeted.
  8. Client relationships become more like partnerships and exchanges move upwards from the practical to the strategic. It’s no longer about ‘where are we with that piece of creative?’, but rather ‘so what can we do to find more leads?’
  9. This approach gives the client the tools they need to look good with the board - as long as you get it right, of course.
  10. When it works, the performance approach is great for PR. You have all the access you need to the figures to produce the perfect case study!

Of course there are some cases where performance just won’t work, or where a ‘hybrid’ approach is the best solution. However, if goals can be set, results can be measured and a cost per conversion agreed on, I would like to believe that a pay for performance approach will become the option of choice for both agencies and clients.

Photo attribution:  / CC BY 2.0

Creative Lewisham 0
March 11 2010 4:09 PM

Marketers’ Misconceptions Part 1 -“69% of Marketers Struggle to See Prospective Buyers as Individua

This is the first in a short series ofblogs based on research conducted by IDG Connect - and made availableexclusively through Creative Lewisham - into a fascinating area: the discrepancy betweenhow marketers and prospective buyers view email communications. The findings,published this January, examine different perceptions of the drivers forengagement, intensity and open rates. Part one addresses the difficulties ofB2B communication…