An article in this week’s The Drum, explains how Modelez (the latest name adopted by Kraft) are on a mission to finally winkle out their under-performing communications routes – in other words increase their efficiency. Although it’s something I thought every marketer had always striven for, I recognise that to a large extent the past efforts of most marketers in this respect have often been little more than lip-service. However, it will become an even hotter topic in months and years to come, so the article piqued my attention.

Past decades have witnessed debates about the efficiency of various media routes, but with the advent of technology all of these discussions are academic. Every business now has the capability to know exactly what kind of return they are getting on every media channel, campaign or ad. Few do, of course, but that’s just laziness, miss management or fatal optimism … call it what you like. Those who do, or at least are getting along with the process of finding out, including The Coca-Cola Company, Diageo and Unilever, will be the winners and those that don’t will be consigned to history.

So, if you are one of those businesses that have been fiddling while Rome burns and have just woken up to the fact that you need to do something quick, you might be able to cut a corner or two by studying the conclusions that some of those in-the-know have arrived at.

Highlights include of course the slide towards social media. This in turn having given rise to the advent of content marketing, another of my current pet topics. Most importantly the focus within content marketing is shifting quickly to campaign strategy and production quality. Content marketing has many dissenters, but generally the realisation is dawning that, like every other marketing tool, it’s how you use it that counts. The music isn’t in the piano. Content is about conversation, not presentation. It‘s objective is relationship-building (I call them “brandships”) not instant sales. It’s also the case that the written word is losing it’s usefulness compared to video, but the dilemma for marketers is that video is so potent that unless your execution is of the highest standard you’ll do more harm than good. Great content, however, comes at a price and many marketers, desperate to climb aboard the content bandwagon, have fallen into the trap of producing cheap content that just makes their brand look … well, cheap! There are so many businesses out there producing content that only serves to underline the market’s negative perceptions of them.

While mostly this is about marketers not understanding content marketing, it’s also very much about the too-much-of-a-good-thing syndrome, which was highlighted recently, by Joe Pulizzi in his blog under the heading “You are Publishing Too Much (And Failing)”. Joe very level-headedly points out that some marketers are embracing content marketing with too much enthusiasm, taking the view perhaps that if a little of something is good for you a lot of it is even better! We all know where that’s heading! Joe seems wise enough and he’s attributed with coining the phrase “content marketing” (although I am sure there are a few who will contest that) so I recommend you look him up. My take on Joe’s debate is that mostly it’s a case of businesses thinking that they can advertise their way out of the problems that their general miss-management of their organisations has created. Rather than fix the problem, they advertise like headless chickens and because social media and content marketing are the current buzz, that’s where they stack their chips.

Another great benefit of technology that I have referred to many times is the scope it gives us to personalise not just offers, but content and other messaging. It seems these tools are delivering results. Not only are they improving efficiency by targeting offers more accurately, but, maybe more importantly, in the context of content marketing they avoid annoying people with irrelevant content. I know that “native content” is a bit controversial at the moment, but it seems to me that it’s here to stay, just as the beacons that I wrote aboutlast year and received such vociferous objections to are now components of retailers’ marketing strategies across the globe Including Apple, Virgin and numerous other big names.

Which brings me to my main point. Technology, as I pointed out in a recent blog post, in a very short time span, has given us all kinds of capabilities that we have spent decades wishing for. Defining media effectiveness and personalisation are just two of them, but these alone could mark the difference between success and failure for your business. As I said in my earlier LinkedIn Pulse post “Two Thoughts to Kick Off a Successful 2015” this could be your last call to embrace change. Go for it!

First published on LinkedIn February 2015

Phil Darby
August 2, 2018

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