Posts Tagged ‘ online marketing ’

Real Time Branding, for REAL South African Brands.

This is a bit of a quick post – but I know if I dont post it now, i never will. I just read this article about Real Time Branding Online – it is so relevant to what is currently happening in the industry that I couldnt help but to think – How do these insights impact OFFLINE Real-Time Branding.

Please have a quick read through this article – just so that we are on the same wavelength 🙂  – then see below – my ever twisted interpretation and adaptation of online principles to offline branding:

1. ” Audiences were happy to fall for the dream and not shout about the reality; but with the arrival of social media and the real time web we are seeing, these same audiences not only answer back but take control and engage in the brand experience itself on a minute-by-minute basis.
This directly affects the way you should manage, monitor and measure your online branding campaigns – in real time.” – BUT WHAT ABOUT OFFLINE?

I believe the same has to be applied to offline branding. People are no longer interested in anything that is not a REAL representation of the brand, accompanied by a means for them to interact – BUT – how do we measure offline campaigns in real time? Here is how,  whether it is through offline below the line activations, promotions, events where “REAL PEOPLE” are there to facilitate two-way chat or a redirection to some online platform for them to interact – SOMETHING has to be developed for everyone to CHAT.

2. Real time reputation – if only it was as easy as opening up a BrandsEye account to measure and control offline reputation. But it is not impossible. I like to call it “Modern Public Relations & Research” – What I mean by this is, is actual public relations, not media relations, but actual REAL interaction with the PUBLIC – people who use and love the brand. Hand in Hand with this goes – REAL research. Not just completing some survey in a controlled environment – but rather a CHAT getting real information from REAL people in REAL time. Once again it makes sense to make use of an online platform to facilitate this, think brand blogs, brand online communities, or non-brand specific think –  www.shespeaks.com ; www.hellopeter.co.za BUT can also be done offline at below the line activations and events. Think – every single promoter in store, brand ambassador at an event, or any person representing a brand offline – equiped with a video phone, or which ever mechanic makes sense – getting real time information about people using their products, by having a simple CHAT. The world where the media controls peoples perceptions of brands are changing, PEOPLE control peoples perceptions. And OFF LINE campaigns have to make use of REAL PEOPLE. This takes us to point nr 3.

3. Brand ambassadors: no more them and us

” Establishing who a brand’s key online ambassadors are – that is to say those who are already advocating your brand – and being able to identify their influence amongst other potential brand advocates is now one of the key foundations to building a successful online brand campaign.”   – this is exactly the same offline. Establishing key offline ambassadors – well connected people who are already advocating your brand and being able to identify their influence. A company that i was very involved with called PHATSET – gets this right. Making use of a customer centric approach to product and campaign development is far more valuable than what the current adoption rate of this approach may show in South Africa. Having consumers (even though i hate calling them that) – PEOPLE OF THE BRAND – much better – involved in every step of the process, might be a little bit more time consuming, BUT the rewards and impact will far override the extra time spent. I suggest giving PHATSET a call now!- see image below 🙂

This brings us to nr 4

Phatset

Phatset

4. Are your employees your brand?

Similar to the online industry – where Janet talks about – “UK company recently who fired an employee for stating in her Facebook account that her job was ‘boring’, this is probably not the best way forward to enhance your brand image.”

This is the same offline, as mentioned before in one of my posts, i was privileged enough to be involved in the execution of the glaceau vitaminwater launch here in South Africa. It taught me a lot about living the brand, i will continue to live the vitaminwater brand – and not because they asked me to, but because i want to. More importantly though, it highlighted the importance of INTERNAL MARKETING

At university, this was a very important chapter, but in the REAL world, it seems to have been left behind. I managed to do a couple of degrees at university, where my indecisiveness seemed to have paid off in the long run, as i got to come across the very important alignment hidden in the chapters of my organizational psychology and my marketing textbooks. In the REAL world, i was pleasantly surprised to notice that these two departments do not work together all that much. Internal Marketing is somewhere between a staff party and internal training – but HOW MUCH DO EMPLOYEES REALLY LIVE THE BRAND? HOW MUCH DO THEY KNOW ABOUT CURRENT COMMUNICATION? DO THEY REPRESENT THE LIFESTYLE OF THE BRAND?

It is actually so logical, perhaps a bit ideal, but it makes perfect sense, job satisfaction and offline word of mouth must be correlated to some degree. People who form part of the brand lifestyle and experience must be far happier working for the brand than someone who falls without the lifestyle and the brand experience. I would love to perform a study on this, perhaps someone else has already. The point I am trying to make is that South African Brands spend so much time and money on their marketing campaigns, to a point where agency professionals know more about the brand than some people in the company. Some Sales People communicating and interacting with consumers everyday, exchanging valuable REAL TIME INFORMATION – it is almost CRUCIAL – for BRANDS to capitalize on these CHATS, whilst developing an organizational culture where information is shared and everyone feeling part of the brand and brand development. PEOPLE are connecting with other PEOPLE everyday, and BRANDS have to be pay more attention both online and offline – to ensure that REAL information is exchanged in REAL time everyday. Online Platforms facilitates this, Offline interaction has to as well. As she says in the article –

“Your brand is now open to the world and is defined by those who use it, interact with it and by how they view it on a second by second basis. Brands can no longer hide behind the advertising boards of the 20th century.”

SO lets just drop all the marketing jargon, and become REAL brands for REAL people in REAL time 🙂

Idea: – Videotorials – Combining the marketing and organisationl pshycology worlds through REALITY like TV shows / online videos – to provide both consumers and potential employees with REAL information in REAL time about REAL brands!!!

The Line

i have not posted a blog in so long, i have a back log of content and thoughts and now i dont know where to start. one thought that did come to mind first, especially now living in johannesburg where it seems to be a lot more prominent – is the line.

Above the line, below the line, through the line, “on the line” what is this line we live by communicating our products and services?
In a world where access to information is a simple click of a button, it is only a natural progression for brands to be more authentic. It is all about being real and honest in communication, so how does this influence the way we market? And how long does it take for a brand to forget about the line and talk to the consumer like a real person?
My favourite brand I have worked on so far is glaceu vitaminwater. I have been lucky enough to experience a global strategy that is sure to make headlines in all modern marketing text books.  Like with everything in life, each situation is unique and it does not necessarily mean that what works for a will work for b. But, what I did learn is that if you focus on communicating the true value of your product in a way that is best suited for both the brand and the person buying, then, purchasing becomes the natural next step. Further down the line, innovation will deliver continuous satisfaction and creative ways of providing more for less will sustain sales. Energy and belief in the product from all involved will make sure that everyone wants to be a friend. So in essence, it is really simple. The moment brands stop trying so hard and let the consumers be part of their lives is when the brand will really become part of their lives in return.

This leads me to think about this line, which I have not figured out just yet, but at the moment see as the life path of the brand. Similar to the life of a person, it is all about where you are along the path of life and your own personality that will determine what is best for you. I think our structured conventional way of categorizing communication based on a line, is becoming an obstacle in reaching the right people and providing them with an opportunity to purchase. Merely moving “below the line” because of budget cuts is like feeding a baby cereal because food is too expensive, it is a dangerous thing to do, in fact it may kill you.  But truly understanding where the baby is a long the path of life will eliminate wasting money on incorrect nutrition and expensive doctor bills.

It is no different with brands, if a little bit more time is spent on truly understanding the brand, where it is in life, and who it is really “hanging out” with, it will be a lot easier to provide the perfect mix of everything it needs in order to be a good friend to everyone, those already a friend and every new person a long the way.

I am so happy that we are moving into an era where it is no longer about influencing people to buy products they don’t need, but rather providing the right people with the right information to make better purchasing decisions. Like the shift from fixed marriage arrangements to online dating ☺

It will be interesting to see which brands make a concerted effort to be a little bit more honest and organic in the way they let the lives of their brands evolve, and to see the line for what it really is – a life rather than another man made marketing criteria.

Lets take all the marketing jargon, forget it and start over swapping the  “strategically thought out headline”  –  for a simple, honest chat.

Just for fun – my two favourite online newsletters worth checking out – http://www.springwise.com & the cool hunter! – see, a simple chat 🙂 happy winter everyone.

Young Online Start Ups – recent insight

the revenue models associated with online social networks are undefined. i have been involved in the start up of an online community www.capetownalive.co.za – well involved behind the scenes. which actually put me in quite an interesting position, where i was able to view the business as a whole objectively, whilst having direct access to all information and people running the business.it is always a lot easier to look at something from the outside and give ideas, direction & strategic input, than when you are so involved in the day to day running or specifically to online, product development and content management, that more than often you lose sight of the broader vision, and why you are there in the first place.

through continuous observation i came across a couple of things i found left unattended, yet forms the platform of the business as whole. i can understand why this happens, especially in small start ups, where role definitions are unclear and one person is often assigned to several job descriptions.

during the start up of a business i do agree that the most important thing is about getting things done, implementing ideas – but without clear vision, business objectives, short and long term goals, and well defined brand image, how do you make decisions? and without research and market analysis how do you position yourself?, and without involving your consumers to some extent, how do you ensure desirable product development? And of course without systems and processes, even just really basic ones like regular meetings with updated status sheets, project management and timelines, how do you do any of the above?

Perhaps in the first week, everything is in order, but once the ball starts rolling the processes start becoming more difficult to sustain. So what is the solution – basic corporate governance from the start and organizing day to day business like a budget holiday – have fun and enjoy, but make sure everything is well planned,controlled and within budget to avoid getting stuck outside the most beautiful spot on earth with no money to go in:)

Back to online social networks – here it is even more complicated as you have members & clients & high levels of content management, hence the resources and time required to sustain the business is even more tied up. I am no expert, but one thing i have learned in a short period of time, is that with online social networks a clear differentiation needs to be made from the start between clients and consumers, with equal focus on both segments during product development, marketing strategy, brand building and ofcourse – REVENUE MODELS! This basically means that everything is twofold – sales to members, and sales to clients, marketing of product to members, marketing of product to clients and marketing the business/brand as a whole, it is quite a challenging balance to maintain, but without, simply impossible to be successful in operation, not even to mention about delivering a competitive advantage.

Recently i have had a lot of random thoughts about the revenue models associated with online social networks, and my final conclusion is that the only way, or rather one way, of actually making money is to bridge the gap between on and offline. Events ofcourse is one, but beyond that – taking the much loved online brand and delivering offline sustainable products or services under the same brand. I still dont know why i have not been to invited to a facebook fashion show, or own a google gps, or had a quick visit to an online clothing store, or what about a bizcommunity business lounge?? I also dont know why i have not come across an online shopping mall? I have not quite figured it out yet, but i have a feeling i am on the right track…

This post is getting a bit long and random. Oh the inconsistency of it all, the changing colours of the rainbow of life, the brave feeling of letting go and the crystal clear vision of life when you young!

URL Marketing – as much an offline chapter as an online one.

Recently I have experienced the gap between on and offline marketing in South Africa. The online industry in south africa, more specifically digital marketing is growing at a rapid race. But are brand managers, marketing directors and managers on the same growing rollercoaster?

There is no doubt that focus had been shifted towards alternative forms of marketing, including digital and online marketing. The advertising industry has changed to a point where the consumers are in control and communication is all about conversation. The value of the internet lies in facilitating a platform where information can be displayed and adopting social media and multimedia features where conversation can be stimulated.

So in essence, what is the most important part of an online marketing strategy, whether it is for a microsite, campaign or general website – URL marketing – more than often the one chapter missing in emarketing textbooks. No online marketing strategy will be successful without being part of an integrated offline strategy, based on relevance to the consumer, supporting a consistent message in a way that affiliates best with the product offering itself. No one is going to buy toothpaste online, but an interactive game might keep the brand top of mind. No one is going to search for business consultants on Facebook, but the initial research for a new alcoholic beverage might be hidden in Facebook Events.

I think it is time that the active digital marketing network include marketing directors of major brands as guest speakers, and visa versa, because it is only through real collaboration of information and initiatives supported by prior evaluation of needs of the business as a whole that on & offline initiatives will be able to make a real difference to the bottom line. And this collaboration is exactly what the world wide web enables companies to accomplish.

So lets not get too lost in all the creative ideas associated with the very exciting online marketing industry – and take out our marketing 101 & corporate strategy textbooks to bring us back to basics in a time where the only thing that really matters is meeting objectives and increasing the bottom line – not the number of Loerie awards up agains the wall of your advertising agency.