Tag Archives: Advertising

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Introducing ‘INNW’ (a new marketing acronym)

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I’d like to propose ‘INNW’ as a new acronym* to guide marketers in 2017.

These 4 letters stand for a relatively simple statement – If Not Now, When?

As (almost) everyone in business and marketing knows, the world has changed. A lot. If you’re in the business of selling a product or service, you’re probably scratching your head and wondering how to manage a decreasing marketing budget amongst an increasing array of media options. “Do more with less” seems the mantra nowadays.

As 2016 comes to a close, and in the spirit of new year resolutions, I propose that “If Not Now, When?” be the slogan that inspires your approach to marketing in 2017. Marketing demands bold ideas, innovation and bravery. That means marketers should always be looking to test new strategies and tactics.

So next year (not next decade), see if one or more of these are right for your business.

Get mobile-friendly.

This message has been hammered into everyone for a number of years. Australia’s smartphone penetration is #2 in the world (77% in 2013 as per SMS Global study).  More searches are done on a mobile device than PC and ‘search’ is the most frequently used shopping tool for mobile consumers (according to a Google USA study).

So any business that hasn’t yet thought of a way to embrace a mobile-optimised web presence – or any other mobile-friendly tactic – then it’s definitely time to act! Put at the top of your list. Let me know if you need some help with this.

Accelerate digital-based innovation.

Now is the time to start embracing not only change, but the method of making change happen.  A recent report by Accenture details the benefits that accrue to companies that actively innovate to add value. Their key findings contains one element that successful innovators are doing: “Incorporate digital as part of the customer experience.”

Breakdown your whole go-to-market plan and identify touchpoints that can be strengthened by applying a degree of digitisation. This can be either customer-facing or an internal communications/workflow solution.

Accenture: Rewriting The innovation Playbook

Social selling.

This is a relatively new concept so if you’re unfamiliar with it’s premise: social selling is when salespeople use social media to connect directly with their prospects. There is much more it than simply connecting, as the idea is that salespeople use social media as a means to establish a relationship that  might lead to a future sale.

Social selling is a B2B marketing strategy that mostly occurs online using LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Slideshare, Pinterest and YouTube. The premise is that a salesperson publishes content of interest to his/her prospects, who will then follow/like/share that content.  Over time the salesperson and prospect develop closer ties, including meeting in person, that may lead to a sale.

Read more about this strategy in this Forbes article. Better still, ask me for some advice.

Programmatic media buying.

Digital advertising is now dominated by programmatic media buying.  Proponents laud its ability to efficiently display an advertisement to the right audience at the right time and in the most measurable context.  It has been primarily for large advertisers but the scale of programmatic means that even small ones can use the platforms.

This Digiday article looks at 5 key charts to explain the big growth in programmatic. Then allocate some ad budget and give programmatic a go. It’s so highly measureable that you’ll know if it’s working soon enough.

Customer experience improvements.

As Lee Tonitto, CEO of the Australian Marketing Institute says, “A good CMO is chronically obsessed with the customer.” Lee goes on to say in the MediaScope article predictions for 2017, “Organisations must undergo radical shifts in their structures to align themselves with how customers act in a new world obsessed with digital experiences. This starts with the CMO closely collaborating with the CIO, and building from there.”

If you’re going to improve something, you need to know a baseline to grow from. In terms of CX, that requires a forensic examination of the pathway to purchase. And beyond. A great way to achieve this is to conduct a customer journey mapping exercise. Contact me if you’d like to learn more.

Make smarter use of Facebook and Google.

How’s this for a staggering stat: “In the first quarter of 2016, 85 cents of every new dollar spent in online advertising will go to Google or Facebook” (NYT 13 Dec 2016).  These two online brands now dominate the online advertising landscape so much that they must be part of every marketer’s plans for 2017.

Whether it’s Facebook Ads or Google Adwords, use a specialist agency to ensure you are getting the most value from the ad budget spent with them. And if you need help choosing a digital agency – ask me for advice.

Data capture and usage.

If you’re not collecting data about your prospects and customers, then you’re already behind the eightball. If you’re collecting data but have no strategy for how to effectively use it in marketing communications, then you’re only doing half the job.

To manage data effectively you need a good CRM, a customer segmentation strategy, and a publishing platform that leverages the data sets being captured through online interactions, social media connections, search results, real life transactions, and post-sales interactions.

Read my blog post about leveraging the ‘Data Funnel’ and contact me for more thoughts on how you can improve your data strategy.

Which strategy or tactic should be included? Add your comments below.

* Sorry…I know everyone hates acronyms. Hopefully it’s a useful one 🙂

P.S. When I came up with this idea, I didn’t realise the phrase was the title of a novel by Italian author Primo Levi, published in 1982. Read more about the book. The book inspired American alternative rock band Incubus to use the title for its 7th album, released in July 2011.




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Cross-channel. Multi-channel. Omni-channel. Please explain?

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MARKETERS love buzz words.

One of the more overly used and abused is linked to the ubiquitous term “channel”.

The word ‘channel’ basically describes a medium in which a message can be inserted to be watched/heard/read by a prospective customer.  Usually this is a paid insertion, but unpaid messages in ‘owned’ media are becoming increasingly popular and effective (or not, depending on the generosity of mega-platforms like Facebook and Google+).

Reading the trade press, speeches by digital gurus, and their blogs, reveals the increasing and over-zealous use of three terms that seem to mean the same thing: cross-channel, multi-channel, and omni-channel.

So what do these prefixes really mean? And is there any difference when used to describe channels?

To begin, here’s a quick grammatical guide to each prefix.

  • The “cross” prefix describes a scenario where an artist or an artistic style or creative work appeals to a range of audiences. Like a cross-dresser.
  • The prefix “multi” refers to there being greater than one. Of something. Anything.
  • “Omni” means ‘of all things’. A know-it-all would be omniscient. Seemingly everywhere, as ‘in all ways or places’ is regarded as being omnipresent.  

Analysing the meaning of each prefix clearly proves that each term should have a different meaning, although the continuing usage by the media is usually at cross-purposes (pun intended).

When referring to cross-channel marketing, the discussion should be about adapting a message campaign seamlessly across multiple mediums.

Multi-channel marketing would be most accurately used in a dialogue about the fact there are many mediums for a marketer to promote their goods and services to an audience. There always have been, always will be.

The third term, omni-channel, has mystical and astrophysical attributes. “Omni” suggest the medium is everywhere; the air, the clothes, the built and natural environments….well maybe that’s stretching it a bit far.  It sounds cool though. And seems to have become another marketing buzz word.

For a detailed and informed explanation about these terms in relation to e-retailing, I recommend reading this post on the atinternet blog. The authors make some excellent observations, the most compelling being:

Customers like to use all channels as soon as they are available 


A customer who uses several different channels is more likely to make a purchase

So to decide which term is best to use, I turned to that all-knowing oracle – Google Trends. It’s a handy tool to look up what’s popular with the search ‘crowd’, and how that popularity is trending. The below chart surprised me:

Google Trends multi-ch mktg

Ta dah – multi-channel is the most popular. Although from a dramatic peak of popularity in Oct 2011, it has a declining trendline. Whilst both terms “cross-channel marketing” and “omni-channel marketing” were deemed by Google to have “Not enough search volume to show graphs.”

So use multi-channel. The ‘crowd’ has spoken 😉

N.B. For anyone unfamiliar with the expression “Please explain?”, credit must go to ex-Australian ultra-conservative politician Pauline Hanson for this succinct response to an interviewer’s very basic question.

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Anatomy of a digital marketing campaign

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OVER my career I have planned and produced a wide variety of digital marketing campaigns. One certainty is that it’s not getting any simpler.

In an attempt to demystify the process of creating a digital-led communications campaign, I have developed a 5 Stage overview from planning to implementation to measurement. This post summarises each discipline/tactic, basically in chronological order, although this will vary depending on the complexity of the campaign elements.

[Note:  I have not included offline marketing processes, however there are some key digital decisions that enhance integration between the two disciplines.]

Stage 1 – Brief

The marketing brief must align with the overall business objectives.  Audience profile, budget and timing are also imperative elements of the brief.

The brief will inform the creative development process, leading to ideas that will be communicated to an audience through multi-channel digital strategies.


Stage 2 – Planning

The content of the campaign messaging must be reviewed and, in effect, cleared for use across ALL  digital platforms that will be utilised in the campaign.

Search terms
A successful online marketing campaign starts with choosing the right terminology so you optimise SEO (organic) to minimise SEM (paid). Develop a strategy based on SEO-friendly content, judicious use of paid search terms, and don’t underestimate the importance of social media to support SEO. Check out sites like Google Trends, Google AdWordsBing Trends or Twitter Search to learn about relevant search terms’ popularity.

Build a Keyword & Key Brand/Product Messaging matrix. Prioritise the matrix and ensure it is followed by everyone who is writing copy for the campaign’s online and printed material.

Short URL
Sometimes called a vanity URL, this is very useful for print media (ads, brochures, posters, etc.) where you want people to easily remember the URL. A number of options are available:
– create a landing page within the main website with a URL like ‘www.yourdomain.com.au/campaigntheme’;
– create a stand-alone microsite with a new domain name based on the campaign theme; or
– register a new domain name based on the campaign theme and redirect the URL to a landing page within your main website.

Hashtag (#)
Over the past few years the humble hashtag has become the marketing weapon-of-choice for major advertisers. They’re now used liberally on TV, posters, sports ground signage, and social media where they originated. Search multiple platforms to see if your chosen hashtag is available, using tools like TagBoard. The main ‘trap’ to watch out for is who else is either using that hashtag now, or might over the time period of your campaign. Acronyms are especially susceptible to have multiple meanings. Another hashtag ‘trap’ is the unwitting blending of letters when multiple words run together, creating a completely different meaning to the original campaign theme (for bad examples see this Guardian article).

Social media
Review existing SM channels and consider if new ones can be launched via the campaign (of course they must continue to be used after the campaign is over). A high level SM planning document should identify the audiences and related social network/s, and how the the Brand/Product Messaging matrix will drive the publishing cycle and content.

Stage 3 – Content

Landing page
Further to the discussion above re SEO and short URL, the landing page is the ‘destination’ for all digital marketing call-to-action (CTA) elements. People will arrive here after they have clicked an online ad, a link in an email, a social media post, read it in a brochure or on a poster. What is written and shown here must present the brand/product information in the most engaging way. It must also take the CTA to the next logical step – a buy/checkout option, download a report, request a sales call, or subscribe to an eNewsletter.

Ideally your business has a regular eNewsletter with a substantial subscriber database. Include the campaign message/s within the existing eNewsletter template, or create a bespoke email to promote the campaign. Use the exact same campaign keywords/terminology in the email as that used on the web, in social media posts and search marketing.

Not every business has a blog, as it requires significant time and effort to publish consistently and professionally. For those that do blog, it can be an ideal ‘launch pad’ for a campaign. The selected keywords and brand/product messages must be written into the copy, also links to the landing page/website, as these are what search engines will be looking for. Blogs should also include ‘rich media’ like video, audio and photographs as these are known to encourage reader sharing.

Social media
Preparing a social media publishing and content calendar will optimise the use of these channels. Ideally it should include video and visual content to accompany written posts/updates, as these are proven to receive much higher rates of user engagement and sharing.

The success of video to support digital marketing initiatives has grown significantly in the past few years. The variety of ways to use video makes it such a flexible tool for digital marketers: ‘how to’ videos are amongst the most searched on YouTube; crowd-sourced videos make for some amazing and entertaining films; and authoritative speakers filmed at a conference (or to camera) are highly valued by audiences.

Online ads
There are many options to use paid online media to reach an audience.  Dependant on budget and campaign messaging, a professional marketer can identify appropriate online media to reach a business’ prospects. An excellent resource is MediaScope, a comprehensive directory for marketers and agencies to find the right media for their needs.

Stage 4 – Channels


This is where all the action will be when customers come looking for information, to buy your product/service, to subscribe/download/engage/etc. Ensure it is optimised so people can find what they are looking for quickly and do what they want to do easily.

If the campaign requires a microsite, ensure it is designed to complement the brand identity and the main website. It can harm your brand image if a microsite has a completely different look & feel to the brand’s other digital assets. Launching a microsite also means starting your organic search performance from scratch- this can inhibit the campaign’s early results. Thus ensure SEO-friendly keywords/metadata and optimise the home page user experience.

Include campaign messages  within an existing eNewsletter or send a custom message to an established email subscriber database (opt-in permissions permitting). Purchasing a 3rd party email list is a tactic that is becoming much harder to get satisfactory results given the improved performance of spam/junk email filters and firewalls.

A well-subscribed blog is the place to start a conversation around the campaign theme. Don’t sit on the fence, invite audience discussion, and that will encourage sharing. Link to the blog post from all your social channels plus from the website/microsite. Where appropriate find related blogs to contribute your point-of-view in conversations that can lead back to your own blog/website.

Social media
There is a huge array of content marketing that can be implemented via SM. I won’t go into the many strategies and tactics of using your own presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, etc., suffice to say they are powerful platforms to reach existing and new customers when used to their maximum potential.

Mobile app
Building a new mobile/tablet app is a big investment in time, money and resources. If this solution meets the brief then it will need a fully scoped plan to design, test and launch – and regularly maintain content and functionality!


Online ads
The budget for online advertising will determine the scope for buying media space in relevant online media. Keep in mind the click-through-rate (CTR) of banner advertising is very low (in the 0.1%-0.4% range) and due to their abundance, banner ads are basically ignored (called ‘banner blindness’). However there are design and placement strategies that can deliver suitable returns on investment.

Search (SEM)
SEM is a pay-per-click (PPC) model with a bidding (auction) process. Two key factors determine if your paid ad appears in Google search results: your maximum CPC bid and Quality Score (QS) – the latter is a key metric to determine how relevant your ad is to the user and good SEO practices impacts your QS. Check out Google Adwords site for more info. Engaging a professional search marketer is recommended to ensure your SEM investment returns positive results.

Social media
New audiences may be reachable via paid advertising on sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Buying that reach is not a simple prospect, and is best considered when budgets and resources allow proper planning to ensure a successful investment.

3rd party apps
Advertisers can now reach customers through mobile (or in-app) advertising. This is a new medium with the potential to reach niche targets like gamers or fitness fanatics. A detailed explanation of mobile advertising can be read on this Wikipedia page.

Stage 5 – Analytics

Google Analytics (GA)
GA has become the default product for measuring website traffic, behaviours and technology. For the casual user GA provides valuable high level data. For the power user the data provides deep insights into your digital marketing performance. Setting up a campaign to be tracked using GA code is a key element in the production phase, and a job best left to an expert. Google regularly improve/change the functionality and design of the GA interface so it pays to engage someone who is proficient with the tools that Google provide for free.

CMS Analytics
Many content management systems (CMS) have their own analytics service to track and report website performance. In some cases this will provide more useful data and better reporting functions than GA, especially if the website is integrated with other internal systems like CRM and eCommerce.

Email Analytics
Sending emails is one of the most measurable digital marketing tactics. Whichever email system is used will come with an analytics function that provides all essential data to measure the responses to sent emails. Set benchmarks and test different creative solutions to continually improve your email performance.

Advertising Analytics
Online advertising can be measured at both the source (ie. the media owner) using the media owner’s analytics software, and the inbound destination (usually the website) using Google/CMS Analytics. Confusion can arise when data differs between systems, however the best policy is to compare ‘apples with apples’.  Google provides a good overview here showing how to set up the tracking codes for online advertising.

CRM Reports
There are some powerful CRM systems that can report on customers that visit your website then transact with your company. Data that identifies who buys what is always going to be the most valuable to a business; this is especially critical for an eCommerce business that must deliver online after-sales service, customer loyalty programs, and a continuously improving customer experience.

The digital marketing eco-system is actually far more complex than I have attempted to describe here. Due to the proliferation of ‘owned’ media channels, business owners would be excused for thinking that customers can be reached at an ever decreasing cost. Even the management consultant, educator, and author Peter F Drucker said, “The new information technology, Internet and e-mail, have practically eliminated the physical costs of communications”.

However intangible costs have moved in the opposite direction – in skilled personnel, in software, in services.

My advice: plan, test, measure, learn; re-plan, re-test, re-measure, re-learn; and so on. Marketing has become an iterative process.


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TV ads using #hashtags for tag lines…is just wrong

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There is a worrying trend amongst advertisers to substitute TV advertising tag lines with hashtags.

For example see #RaisedOnWeetBix and Carlton’s #hellobeer TVCs below.

This is just plain wrong. Why?

Firstly, because the majority of people would have very little idea what the # symbol means. It’s only been 4 years since Twitter introduced the hashtags ‘Trending Topics’ tab in March 2010. And Facebook only introduced hashtags and a ‘Trending’ section in recent months.

Secondly, hashtags work best when they are seen and used in context, in the medium where the consumer can respond. I can’t imagine many people jumping on their phone/tablet/laptop/desktop after seeing a TVC and firing up Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or YouTube to start tweeting/posting about the brand using their advertised hashtag.

Thirdly, a brand has no control over how their hashtags are used. Simply plopping one at the end of a TV spot invites the cynics and troublemakers to hijack the hashtag and use it totally out of context.

The use of hashtags during TV programs like #MKR, #QandA and #sbsdoco is a different matter, as the producer is actually inviting viewers to participate in a discussion based on the program’s live content.

So, my advice to advertisers is stick to ‘traditional’ tag lines in TV spots and leave the hashtags to the medium they are intended. Such as this tweet on the Weetbix brand account that does use the #RaisedOnWeetbix hashtag appropriately:

weetbix tweet



Finally, here’s that clever skit about hashtags that Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon performed on Jimmy’s TV show…


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‘Know your product’ – music that’s anti-advertising

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Music and advertising go together like Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire.  Thousands of TV commercials have used some of the world’s biggest music stars (plus some unknowns) to help sell their product or service.

Some memorable ones include Phil Collins song “In The Air Tonight” for Cadbury, the iconic use of “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” by Levi’s in the ‘Laundrette’ spot, and Nike’s hit commercial featuring the ‘Chariots of Fire’ soundtrack over a mock scene of beach running from the movie.

In 2005, Apple – no stranger to this technique themselves – even put 50 songs together in an iTunes playlist they call “Commercial Success – 50 Songs That Sell”.

However, there aren’t many songs by influential musicians that are overtly anti-advertising. Two that stand out for me are ‘Know Your product’ by The Saints* and ‘Satisfaction’ by the inimitable Rolling Stones:



‘Know Your Product’ lyrics don’t hold back in its condemnation of advertising – “Cheap advertising, you’re lying / Never gonna get me what I want/ I said, smooth talking, brain washing / Ain’t never gonna get me what I need.”

Whilst ‘Satisfaction’ takes a less  virulent attitude – “And that man comes on the radio / And he’s tellin’ me more and more / About some useless information / Supposed to fire my imagination.”

This difference probably shows why The Saints have never lent their musical creations to the world of advertising, whilst later in their career the Stones famously took the cash (reputedly US$3m) from Microsoft to use ‘Start Me Up’ in the Windows 95 launch campaign.

What other anti-advertising rock and/or pop songs are there? Are they the equal of these ground-breaking songs? Add your thoughts below.

* Footnote for those unfamiliar with The Saints, one of the first and most influential punk rock groups. According to Bob Geldof, “Rock music in the seventies was changed by three bands—the Sex Pistols, the Ramones and The Saints.”

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Is the #hashtag mightier than the sword?

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Forgive the cheesy headline, but it seemed an appropriate way to start a discussion about one of the most powerful tactics in modern communications – the humble hashtag. 

Wikipedia explains hashtag as  “a word or a phrase prefixed with the symbol #… Short messages on microblogging and social


networking services such as Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Flickr, Google+ or Facebook may be tagged by putting “#” before important words, as in: #Wikipedia”. Read here to learn more about its origins and uses.

Twitter is where the hashtag’s popularity really took off.  No self-respecting marketing or public relations campaign, social or political event, charity or commercial venture gets mentioned on Twitter without a custom hashtag to give the message ‘virality’ and ‘shareability’.

Of course the global nature of hashtags makes it difficult to select a unique one. Recently, a business event in Australia started tweeting a hashtag that was already being used for World Breastfeeding Week 2013. Oops. Another had to change its hashtag that was also promoting a European beer festival.

The lesson here: do your research, and avoid acronyms as they can mean anything.

What is really interesting is how the hashtag has become as important to a campaign as the sharp headline, the pithy protest poster, or the try-hard tag line. It is now appearing on sports fields and ground signage, on clothing, in TV and print advertisements, and even for a marriage proposal. Numerous musicians have discovered the power of a hashtag – generating serious buzz about their latest release or tour.

Hashtags are becoming the primary digital call-to-action, usurping the simple “search for my brand/product/name/event”. Why? Because marketers are discovering the value of leading a customer, not to a ‘traditional’ sales message, but to a place where people are already sharing their thoughts about the topic at hand. Often this is a more valuable entry point for a prospect to start to get more familiar with a brand/product/service.

The other advantage of hashtags is their versatility. Once established, it can be used in merchandise, as a rallying cry to the faithful, and to communicate a simple idea. One of the most famous is the global #Occupy protest movement.  Demonstrators in each city held signs identifying their particular location/target (e.g. #OccupyWallSt). The movement funded their activities through the sales of #Occupy merchandise, such as the tie, bag and cap.




One of the more original and flamboyant displays of a hashtag to express support for a cause can be seen in the picture below:


Not everyone thinks favourably about the ubiquitous hashtag. In the U.S the National Collegiate Athletic Association has banned their display on college football fields. France takes its language very seriously, so seriously in fact that it has banned the English phrase, instead insisting all French people refer to it as “mot-dièse” – which translates to ‘sharp word’. Sacre Bleu!

The humble hashtag has truly become the mighty idea communicator, the ‘weapon of choice’ for a new generation of social communicators. And the most feared hashtag of all is #fail. Of course social media is also replete with silly hashtags – maybe none more so than #CribsBetterThanBeatles.