What can brands learn from the recent General Election?

Right, the General Election is over and no matter who you voted for, as marketeers we can all use it to our benefit.

So what did we learn that’s relevant?

Repeating your message doesn’t mean you’re driving it home

Strong and stable leadership.

If we heard it once, we heard it a thousand times. It became Theresa May’s answer to almost any question. However, what the Conservative Party failed to grasp with this mantra is that it offers no hope. There is no promise of a better life. Yes, they did try to make it relevant to people by adding, IN THE NATIONAL INTEREST. But to the average person in the street, they rarely think about the national interest. They’re far more concerned with simpler, more fundamental issues, like are their wages going to go up? Will the issue of immigration be tackled? What’s going to happen with Brexit and will the NHS be saved?

So no matter how many times this phrase was repeated, it had no emotional engagement.

And that’s the key.

When you’re looking at your marketing strategy and subsequent messages, make sure that they have emotional engagement. More, give people something to wish for. As Orson Welles said “Don’t give them what they want. Give them what they never dreamed of.”

Choose the channel that’s right for you

What was interesting about this election was the shift from traditional media towards social media.

This new battleground was filled with videos paid for by the leading parties that were viewed millions of times on Facebook. A Conservative attack advert featuring snippets from Jeremy Corbyn speeches was watched more than 7m times.

According to data from Who Targets Me? analysed by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ), the last few days of the election showed that the parties attempted to reach specific constituencies with tailored messages. For example, the Conservatives issued adverts to Facebook users in constituencies with nuclear industries – such as Derby and Chester – with a message that Corbyn and Labour “would put nuclear jobs at risk”.

Who Targets Me? and the BIJ identified at least 1,036 unique political adverts issued by the Liberal Democrats and Tim Farron, the leader of the party, 314 by the Conservatives and Theresa May, and 241 by Labour and Corbyn.

From this simple statistic you could conclude that the Liberal Democrats were at least dominant in Facebook.

However, research by Enders Analysis found that most shared news and opinion on social media was pro-Labour. It also showed that Facebook was the primary digital advertising platform for the Conservatives and Labour, but added that only half of the UK electorate are active users.

And here’s the crux.

While the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats wanted to use Facebook and logic dictated that they were right to do so, they didn’t make the inroads that were needed.

Rather than continuing with this heavy spend, they should have looked at where their supporters were and should have targeted these.

Let Labour spend their budget dominating Facebook where they would only ever reach at the most, 50% of the electorate, instead they could have saturated another channel.

The problem was logic and past experience told them that they should use Facebook, and their strategists weren’t flexible enough to change and go where there was less competition. Don’t make the same mistake.

Try the reliable channels, but also review them on a regular basis to make sure that they’re performing as they should. Then, if the statistics tell you that a channel is under-performing, adapt and try something different. After all, at this point you’ve nothing to lose.

Be memorable, for all the right reasons

Unusually for a political election campaign, there was no single standout creative execution for any of the parties this year. Rather, all the memorable moments came from two sources. Either politicians making fools of themselves in interviews, or it was activists and the politically engaged creating their own content. And this for me was a missed opportunity. No one party truly realised that their most effective marketing tool were their fans. Now, more so than ever is the time for harnessing the power and the reach or your fans and having the confidence to allow them to create on your behalf.

The brand strategy for 2017 you can believe in

Why Brand Tribalism has been replaced by Brand Believers.

The theory of brand tribalism has been around for sometime since its perceived inception circa 2006. However, as far back as 1960 the public intellectual Marshall McLuhan stated; “The ‘simultaneous sharing of experiences as in a village or tribe’ through telegraph, newspaper, radio, telephone and TV, ‘creates a village or tribal outlook and puts a premium on togetherness’ and ‘mediocrity as a means of achieving togetherness”.

But what is brand tribalism and why is it so important?

Well, it is defined as a community of individuals who are united by an emotional attachment to a product or brand. A brand tribe consists of “formal or informal groups of consumers whom share the same awareness, passion and loyalty for a brand or portfolio of brands” (Gallagher, 2013).

The reason brand tribalism has become so significant is that with the dominance of social media within marketing over the past decade, agencies and brands alike have seen this as the best way, if not the only way, to generate loyalty and in turn, sales.

However what we’re now experiencing is a rising fragmentation of these groups as individuals are able to find increasingly localised and specific content to fuel their passions. This fragmentation is being compounded with the disintegration of consumption patterns.

“A recent study from the Connected Home UX (CHX) group at Strategy Analytics has explored consumer usage of multiple devices when watching TV. The increased size and enhanced quality of screens of smartphones and tablets over the years have encouraged more activity and usage of multiple devices when watching TV. At present, most second device use is unrelated to the content being shown on the TV at that time, as consumers like to be active, rather than passively consuming TV for long periods.”*

What we’re seeing now is not simply an increasing rise in ever-smaller distinct groups, but they are also becoming harder to reach through any one particular channel.

This means that increasingly there are going to be two types of successful marketers. Those that have the budgets and resource to create and deliver content across an increasingly broad breadth of channels and platforms, and those that decide to turn marketing on its head and empower their ‘fans’ to market the brand for them. This new wave of fans we call BRAND BELIVERS.

To believe you must have confidence in the truth or reliability of a brand. This conviction is not based on blind-faith; rather it is grounded on credible information. Brand believers inherently want to share their newfound convictions with like-minded people. It is this organic, informed sharing which makes Brand Believers so influential. They then share and inform their own micro-groups creating new Brand Believers as they do so, who then in turn, share with their friends.

Where Brand Believers differ from Brand Advocates, is that a Brand Advocate simply shares their brand experience, whereas a Believer has real knowledge. They understand a brand completely and know why products are right for them.

It is conveying this depth of information that many brands struggle with as they’re still at the stage of conveying messages they feel are most pertinent, as opposed to being more open. While they may talk of two-way conversations, these are still very much under the control of the brand. However, through open and honest sharing of information, a brand can empower their audience and can give them the knowledge they need to take the message forward.

For those brands that dare to be ahead of the curve and embrace the strategy of creating brand believers, not only can they manage their budgets more effectively, they can reach those individuals who are going to drive growth in their sales. Now, that’s something to believe in.


* www.strategyanalytics.com

2016 – what lies ahead in the world of marketing

Where 2015 was a year for establishing and building on the innovation of previous years, 2016 promises to be a year of huge change.
While no one can predict with perfect accuracy what lies ahead, there are certain trends you should be prepared for.

Budget flex
While you would expect the coming year to be championed by those larger brands that have the budgets and the desire to innovate and to lead, 2016 will see smaller brands challenging in ways never before considered possible. In part because costs have relatively speaking, come down, but also because consumers are now leading brand communication. Interestingly this will make it increasingly hard for behemoth agency groups to meet these needs. (As an aside this may well lead to even more brands using smaller, more dynamic agencies.) That’s not to say that their days are numbered, simply that their budgets will either shrink, or in an attempt to be meet the requirement for even more localized content, will grow.

Content, content, content
If the past few years have taught us anything, it is that consumers are getting increasingly lazy and want their entertainment spoon-fed. Whether you like it or not, this means now, more so than ever, brands must have a plan for ongoing video content. Content that is updated on a regular basis and meets the expectations of smaller, rather than the larger amorphous populace.

The rise of macro clusters
You may think that it is becoming increasingly easy to reach large groups of people, while this is in part true, what we’re also seeing is the rise in ‘macro clusters’. Groups of individuals who are connected by their love and their passion for specific content. Spanning demographics in age these niche groups, are well-informed and if you can connect with them and supply them with the content they crave, make for highly motivated brand ambassadors.

Smart everywhere
2016 will finally see the commonplace use of smart, wearable technology that connects consumers with the world around them. From fridges to heating, heart monitors to music, the boundaries of what was technology have finally been blurred and the brands that embrace this fundamental shift this year will have a huge leap on their competitors. For instance Firefox OS has already made the leap and has shifted to become Connected Devices – giving a clear indication of where they see the future to be.

Data comes full circle
Big data and been around and has been used by most brands for sometime now, what this year promises though is, thanks to smart wearable technology, data that is even more detailed and personal. While this will obviously be highly beneficial for brands and will afford them even greater understanding of their customers, consumers will for the first time start to realize the value of this data. Therefore they’ll start to look at ways that they can either control the flow of this personal information, or may even go a step further and will start to consider cutting off its availability completely. All of which means brands are going to have to be more transparent with the data they’re collecting and will have to start looking at ways they can reward consumers for sharing this intelligence.

However, for all of this, it will still be those brands, large or small, that listen to their customers and have the willingness and the ability to be fleet of foot that will continue to prosper.

Marketers need to fully understand whom they’re selling to

I could write endlessly on the fact that marketing seems to have forgotten that its main aim is to sell. Combined with this, many brand managers seem to focus solely on the 25 to 35 age group; seeing them as their key target audience. I contend that rather they should shift their preconceptions and look towards the demographic that has a higher disposable – namely Generation X – or those over 40.

However, it is more than that. Millennials and the so-called Generation Z are emerging as consumers for whom more doesn’t really mean very much. They shudder at past generations’ over consumption and have perhaps witnessed their parent’s pay for everything with endless credit, which has spiraled out of control. They have witnessed the bankrupting of an entire planet, both financially and morally. They know the true meaning of having everything and then losing it. These emerging consumers are not looking for the ubiquitous – they are looking for the scarcities that encompass things like wellness, honest and one-of-a-kindness.

Marketing and therefore selling to a generation that doesn’t ‘do’ average is tricky – gone are the days when a tempting banner ad will generate sales. This customer base wants something unique – something that they have co-created. For them, being able to customise a product to suit them is really where it is at – if they can’t create their own version of something they won’t buy it – end of.

And yet, at the other end of the age spectrum we have those over 40 – typically ignored by marketers who seem to go after the pink unicorns that are the younger generations.
Crazy really, when you think this bracket has the most disposable income and were the daredevils of their time – who do you think introduced us all to skate and snowboarding?

However, they are not an easy group to influence – tending to fall into four groups. And once you understand these clusters, then you can see how your brand can appeal to them. I wrote about this in a previous blog, but believe it is worth highlighting the four different segments of Generation X again. They can be classed as Pragmatics, Disenfranchised, Thrillers and Quality Seekers.

“Pragmatics” is the Generation Xers most interested in information and the Internet. They understand the intricacies of media and marketing. While they’re sometimes considered cynical, there is an underlying optimism in their outlook.

The “Disenfranchised” are those dissatisfied with the world and who feel they often are overlooked as they’re wedged between aging Baby-boomers and Gen Y who are now growing up.

“Thrillers” Thrillers are the adrenalin junkies who refuse to grow old. They contributed to the rise in extreme sports, such as snowboarding, skateboarding and skydiving. Remember the Olympics have now legitimized snowboarding.

Finally, the “Quality seekers”. This group is at the sweet spot of personal wealth and sophistication. Quality Seekers are almost cult-like loyal followers of high-quality, localized brands. Quality Seekers are willing to spend more to get superior ingredients and they are more likely to champion premium brands. They have become the trendsetters and the early adopters for their generation.

So, before you automatically write 24-30 year-olds or 35-45 year-olds in the Target Audience box on your Creative Brief. Pause.
Marketers need to ask themselves whether there is a better, more sophisticated and wealthier audience they could be talking to? An audience that is at best ignored and at worst, being patronized and wrongly stereotyped.

And remember, whether we are targeting Generation Z or X, thanks to the power of tech platforms, where the power of profiling and preference-collection is accepted, these digital consumers also expect communication to them to be unique. Traditional demographic segments such as age, gender, location, income, family status and more can no longer define consumption patterns.

Influencers – reality or just smoke and mirrors?

The accepted definition of an influencer is ‘a person who is well-connected and who is regarded as influential and in-the-know; someone who is looked to for advice, direction, knowledge and opinions’. So, essentially we are talking about people like CEOs, CMOs, PR Professionals, Creative People, Bloggers, Journalists and other Experts. And that’s fine and to true – to a certain extent, but it could be argued that we are all influencers in our own right.

Most of us are on social media – to a greater or lesser extent – unless you have chosen to shun this brave new world and live in a cave and knit your own food. We all have a social media following ranging from one or two people to several hundred or, if you’re very cool, thousands. Whenever we ‘like’ a brand or comment on a tweet, we could be seen to be influencing our followers – whether they chose to take any notice is another matter entirely, but we are putting our opinion and preference out there into the social media ether.

Today, it is the aim of most brands to target influential people with large networks and getting them to help boost the coolness and interest level of those brands, products and ideas. It is seen as an increasingly effective way of spreading news. Apparently, the right influencers can help build your brand by sharing your brand story through their networks.

However, I am not convinced. I wrote an article about brand engagement a while back. It became clear whilst I researched this piece that ‘engagement’ was the Holy Grail for brands. What I discovered was pretty interesting. Let’s take the Pepsi Challenge as an example. 72% of Pepsi drinkers also buy Coke* – shock, horror – and so much for the Pepsi Challenge and brand loyalty for that matter. I bet the reverse is also true – most Coke drinkers would also have a Pepsi. You might now be screaming ‘who cares?’ at your screen – but the fact is that brands care and so do those that work hard to advertise them.

The main issue I think is that we tend to confuse audience with influence. Having a massive social media following will not necessarily allow you to drive action; it can only really allow you to drive awareness. More important, I believe, are what we used to call the ‘brand ambassadors’ – ordinary people who are passionate about a particular brand, who will wax lyrical about how amazing it is, because that is what they genuinely believe and are more than happy to recommend it to anyone who will listen. Real passion and enthusiasm is worth more than a celebrity or blogger who couldn’t really give a shit about a brand but feels they need to be seen to comment on it or who is so obviously being paid to promote it.

And this is really the nub of my point. Influencers, much like content is just a load of smoke and mirrors. Brands see these as ‘must have’ commodities. My advice is nurture the people who may not have thousands of followers but are genuinely passionate about your brand, you may have to put in a bit more effort, but I reckon the returns will be greater than an army of so-called ‘influencers’ who couldn’t care less.

Is content simply a commodity for brands?

The phrase ‘content is king’ has been bandied about more and more since the social media boom and the expansion of the Internet. Everyone from stay-at-home mums to the world’s largest brands is jumping on this increasingly saturated bandwagon – but to what effect?

Most of us will remember the time before the Internet, when display advertising, TV and radio where the mainstays of brand interaction with consumers. Nowadays, however, brands have huge opportunities to engage with their consumers in a myriad of different places in more meaningful ways. The media landscape has transformed and social media sees consumers expecting brands to engage with them directly.

Due to fast-paced market conditions, brands have rushed headlong into publishing, thinking they will miss out on opportunities if they don’t – but few have been successful in their forays. In my opinion, one of the major reasons brands fail is that they lack the strategic vision, talent, infrastructure and genuine audience understanding to succeed. So determined are they to create ‘content’, that their resulting efforts usually bear no resemblance to the brand and is seen by business leaders as just another commodity.

As such, this ‘content’ has little intrinsic value and its cost can always be driven down. Of course, there are exceptions, and while clients will often wistfully look towards these, at the end of the day they are looking at ways to deliver the required ‘content’ for the least expenditure.

If, as a brand, you want to maximize your chances of cutting through the content bullshit, then an asset audit is the best place to start. It will allow you to really understand the value of your content assets and how to maintain them.

Furthermore, brands should have useful content that serves its different audiences and customers. The purchase path is far more complex than ever before and as such; content needs to be served at the various points of their consumer journey. However, brands need to be able to create fast, flexible and often reactive content – sign-off procedures need to be slick and a war room assembled for big events – look how brilliantly Oreo handled the Superbowl blackout with it’s ‘you can still dunk in the dark’ tweet.

Most importantly, brands need to align their content strategy with their overall mission. Everyone is familiar with the peaks and troughs of a media plan, but to succeed as a publisher, brands need to adopt an ‘always on’ approach and that takes serious investment in the right people to keep the operation from falling off the rails. Before creating reams of content, brands should take a step back and look at how their content strategy aligns with the overall business plan. They need to be in-sync. Content is there to support the overall business mission and serve its consumers.

Lastly, brands need to think about what they want their content to achieve. Is the main aim to build brand awareness, sell more units or drive registrations? It is not enough to pump out a ‘one size fits all’ piece of content and expect to reap the rewards. Properly crafted content that knows its audience and serves a purpose will gain the desired traction, while the rest will just add to the increasing amount of noise being created that has no real purpose at all.

What’s a Brand Manager to do?

With a plethora of marketing channels to use, which ones are right for you and your budgets?

There was a time, not so long ago, that the options for brand managers were fairly simple and were clearly defined.

To raise awareness for the brand and increase advocacy, there was above-the-line communication. Remember when people used to actually look out for the last ads on TV? Come on, I can’t be alone in remembering those days?

For driving sales, there was direct mail. Yes, you had to flight for attention on the doormat, but with clever thinking you could usually guarantee a response rate of 4%!

And finally there were events, which were great for pressing the flesh and getting your brand (and yourself) into the trade press.

Fairly straightforward and everything fitted together nicely.

Then along came social media and smartphones and tablets and the world’s gone out of the window.

So how does the smart brand manager still get brand advocacy, drive sales and get their brand mentioned by all the right people?


Apart from being the world’s second most used search engine (and yes, a surprising number of brand managers still forget this) YouTube has become what ITV and Channel 4 used to be – the place to go to see the ‘ads’ that capture your imagination.

YouTube can help your business to:

Create a brand profile
Reach a broad, unspecified demographic
Demonstrate your brand’s relevance with ‘how to’ videos
Engage with consumers through UGC (User Generated Content)

Cost: £ – £££ Perfect as a platform for UGC ‘how to’ films and viral, brands are now spending more and more on creating good content


Facebook says that 24 million people in the UK now use Facebook every single day. That’s nearly a third of the population who simply can’t let a day pass without checking their Facebook page. And for that reason it comes as no surprise that in a statement via its PR agency, Facebook said that “businesses should focus on people who come back online every single day”.

But why?

Has this simply become something that ‘you must do’ and like the Emperor’s New Clothes, no one’s questioning its relevance. Experience says that Facebook is full with mums and dads and those who are 30+. Meanwhile the ‘kids’ are leaving it in droves.

And as for the importance of building a fan base, recent research is showing that in reality people don’t engage with branded social content very often, if at all.

The percentage of brand Fans who interact with brand posts is 0.7% on Facebook*.

These are not random people. These are brand Fans. People you would expect to be brand champions and people who you would expect to interact with content that a brand posts.

And before you say that this is just one example of research and therefore maybe skewed – this has been confirmed by the Ehrenberg Institute who recorded that just 0.5% of Facebook Fans interact with the posts of those brands that they’re fans of.

So what use is Facebook?

As Will Stevens of 123 Reg says: “Facebook offers you the chance to build a community around your business. You can use it for gathering feedback, passing on useful and interesting information and handling complaints. It has an ad platform as well, which you can use to promote your content, such as blog posts, and the products you want to sell. The biggest drawback of Facebook is its lack of organic reach. This means that even if you have built up a large following on the site, very few people will see your posts unless you pay to promote them.”

For all this, Facebook can help your business to:

Boost brand awareness
Boost sales with advertising
Create a community

Cost: £ – ££ Rather than budget, social media can eat into your time. If you can’t do it regularly yourself, look to get support.


Twitter has been branded vacuous by a lot of people, but that’s simply because they have failed to utilise it correctly and to see it for what it is. It is a great platform from which to communicate both quickly and intimately with consumers. And as such you should be using it as a platform through which to start the communication, leading consumers into deeper more relevant conversations elsewhere.

Twitter can help your business to:

Address customer concerns
Boost sales with advertising
Boost lead numbers
Boosting customer retention with ‘instant’ support

Cost: £ – However, you do need to have a social media team in place to do this properly.


Pictures and short film clips are Instagram’s lifeblood. Therefore Instagram is only relevant to those brand who can post regular images about either their products or the people who use their service. Think of it as the modern version of the 48-sht poster. You have a split second to capture the viewer’s attention, but where it differs from simple above-the-line communication, get it right, and you’ll create a follower. A follower who will also, hopefully, be posting content that you can use.

In short – use Instagram to show off!

Instagram can help your business to:

Boost brand awareness
Boost product awareness
Boost lead numbers
Boosting sales numbers through product promotion

Cost: £ This can be incredibly cheap as you can simply create images using a handy smart device.


Just like Instagram, this is a visual social media platform, however, there are no films.

Rather you can create themed ‘boards’ that users can interact with. These give you the opportunity to really connect with consumers – as they’re notified when you add to a given board.

Pinterest can help your business to:

Boost brand awareness
Boost product awareness
Boost lead numbers
Boosting sales numbers through product promotion

Cost: £ – As above.


This is positioned as the social media channel for businesses. In truth, few brands or for that matter, businesses have managed to use it effectively for anything other than recruitment. That said, sole traders have found it to be an effective resource for new business.

LinkedIn can help your business to:

Find the right staff
Boost leads
Raise your personal profile

Cost: £££ (saved) – You can save yourself huge recruitment costs here, but you will need to invest time then going through all the CVs.


OK. So now that YouTube’s here, TV’s dead right?


Consumers have simply changed their viewing preferences. In fact, according to Nielsen, 45% of tablet owners watch TV and use their tablet together at least once a day. So while they might not be ‘focussed’ on your ad, the opportunities for driving viewers straight form the 30” commercial to a purchase have improved.

TV can help your business to:

Raise its profile
Drive sales
Empty your bank account (It’s still very expensive!)

Cost: ££££££ – Creating the commercial, buying airtime etc isn’t cheap, but there still isn’t anything quite like TV for creating brand advocacy.


I’ve place this marketing platform directly under TV because of the fact that according to Nielsen, checking email is the most popular activity for tablet owners while watching TV (61%). This is followed by visiting social networking sites (47%) and looking up information about TV programs.

Email is also the perfect way to stay in touch with customers, ether cross selling, making them aware of new products, add-ons or simply incentivising recipients so that they become a channel through which you can get new customers.

Email can help your business to:

Boost sales
Drive engagement
Drive new business

Cost: £ – As part of a broader strategy, email is very cost effective, with the emphasis being on effective.

Direct Mail

There’s never been a better time to revert to this traditional marketing tool. Why? Because no one else is using it and you’ll have no competition on the doormat. Now with the added advantage of PURLs (Personalised URLs) you can really drive engagement, achieving response rates that are in double figures, so long as your creativity is up to scratch. More than that, the tangible nature of print can reinforce your brand’s characteristics.

Direct Mail can help your business to:

Drive sales
Build your brand
Develop an online CRM strategy

Cost: ££ – Targeted direct mail is a perfect tool to have in every marketeers arsenal and can pound for pound can outperform most platforms.

This is just a quick snapshot of how you can use just some of the platforms available. But to summarise, in many ways, there’s never been a better time to be brand manager. You have more opportunities than ever before to connect with your chosen demographic and it’s all clearly trackable, so you can achieve a defined ROI. However, no one platform can deliver everything that you want and therefore, be prepared to recognise that some of the more popular platforms may not actually be right for you. It’ll help your budget to go further and more than that, you’ll be able to focus on those areas that are truly relevant to you – allowing you to get the results you want.

* Forrester Q1 2014 US Top 50 Brands Social WebTrack

Marketing trends for 2015

And what really should be ‘on trend’ this year.

Every year it’s the same.

Marketeers, both the trusted and the hopeful publish their lists of what they see at the marketing trends for the upcoming year.

This lists are extensive and comprehensive.

And this year has been no exception.

A snippet of the predictions for 2015 includes; content, search optimization, social media (still people haven’t twigged this?), analytics, authentic connections online (which sounds like an oxymoron to me) and mixing paid media with owned media.

Which is all well and good.

I’m not proposing that any of these predictions is wrong or that any of them may not come to fruition. No. What I am protesting at is that the whole focus of marketing predictions is wrong.

It’s all about the platform or, if you’re talking to creatives, the execution.

Yet according to The Oxford English Dictionary, marketing is: The action of buying or selling…

The action of buying or selling.


How many marketeers still think of themselves as people who are there to help their clients sell more?

I’d guess not many.

Certainly judging by this year’s offering of marketing predictions, very few of them are acutely focussed on selling.

And shouldn’t that be the focus?

Shouldn’t the key marketing trend for 2015 be how you can sell more of whatever it is that your client makes.

Creating more things that more ‘marketing’ people are going to be impressed with is all well and good. And it will certainly do your career no harm at all – but it’s not actually helping the person that it should be. The Brand Manager or Owner.

So, if you want a marketing trend list for 2015 – here’s one:

  • Really get to understand your audience. Your actual audience. Not the cool trendy ones that you want, unless they are actually your audience
  • Understand how your product and your brand can help these people
  • Find out how they like to communicate. You may want to create a beautiful film, but if they can’t be bothered or simply don’t have the time to watch a 5 minute film, then maybe, just maybe, a simple piece of direct mail might be best
  • Be honest. Admit what you have time to do. You may have discovered that your target audience live on social media, but if you truly haven’t got the time or the inclination to create the content they crave, admit this, and get someone to create it for you
  • Finally, unless you are selling the cure for cancer, no matter what it is that you’re selling, it doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t. So have fun with it and be honest about its importance. You may find that people love you for this refreshing approach and actually start to buy more from you.

Brand engagement

Why it doesn’t exist and what to do in its place

Brand engagement.

This has been for a number of years now, the manta by which every progressive brand has lived.

We must have brand engagement and the best way to achieve this is to create engaging content.

By doing this we will create brand advocates who will in turn not only buy more from our brand, but will share their positive attitude with everyone they know.

The reality is that people don’t engage with branded social content very often, if at all.

The percentage of brand Fans who interact with brand posts is 0.7% on Facebook and 0.3% on Twitter*.

These are not random people. These are brand Fans. People you would expect to be brand champions and people who you would expect to interact with content that a brand posts.

And before yo say that this is just one example of research and therefore maybe skewed – this has been confirmed by the Ehrenberg Institute who recorded that just 0.5% of Facebook Fans interact with the posts of those brands that they’re fans of.

Shocking stuff.

Ahh, but maybe it’s because these aren’t passion brands you say.


Nike’s engagement is 0.39%

Porsche 0.62%

Tiffany & Co. 1.14%**

So where is everybody going wrong?

Paul Adams, Facebook’s Ex-.‐Global Head Of Brand Design on this matter; “Almost every app built for a brand on Facebook has NO usage.”

And now we’re getting to the nub of the issue.

People don’t really care about brands.

They care about things that they’re really interested in.

Football, holidays, friends and family, food, in short, all the things that we’re all really, honestly interested in.

In fact according to Meaningful Brands, part of the Havas Media Group, 92% of people in Europe and America wouldn’t care if brands disappeared.

That means that only 8%of people care a jot about brands.

And no surprise at all really when you look at 99% of the marketing that’s created today – but that’s another rant for another day.

To put this another way, in a way that most of us will find tangible, 72% of Pepsi drinkers also buy Coke.***

So much for the Pepsi challenge.

if this is the case,, then what’s the solution, if indeed there is a solution?

It’s simple really.

Start with the premise that your brand isn’t the first of the last thing that people think about.

Actually, you’ll be lucky if they think about you at all.

Therefore, your creative work has to be exceptional.

It needs to truly touch people.

It needs to take an interest in what people are interested in, as opposed to the other way round.

It needs to make them laugh.

It needs to make them pause and think.

It needs to enhance their lives.

It needs to be more than simply ‘cool looking’.

It needs to have an idea behind it that resonates with people.

Most people find it easy to participate with a brand. After all, sharing is usually just a click. So make it something that people want to share.

Also, make sure its seen. It’s all well and good having a PPC campaign that ensures your film is seen by 100,000 people, but are these the right people or are you simply making up the numbers? If you’re looking for brand growth, don’t go to those people who are already buying form you, look for ways that you can appeal to infrequent buyers – these are the people who will help your brand to really grow.

And remember, just because you’ve created something that’s engaging and appeals to the right demographic that only 10% of viewers will ever share content.

So be spectacular with your creativity and look for those people who don’t already know you – for through them you’ll find the key to helping your brand to really grow.

* Forrester Q1 2014 US Top 50 Brands Social WebTrack

** Source: Facebook fans: A fan for life? Karen Nelson – Field and Jennifer Taylor

*** Source: Byron Sharp “How Brands Grow” TNS UK

All figures supplied by Nigel Rahimpour, Planning Director.

The UK’s greatest, untapped target audience

The 12 million people with a disposable income who are being ignored by brands.

There is a huge target demographic out there that brand managers, agencies and media buyers seem to be ignoring and it’s a significant audience. There are 12,352,000 people* aged from 45 – 59. That’s nearly 20% of the UK population!

Ah, but who’s interested in these old duffers, more politely referred to as Generation X?

Well, you should be.

These are the people who brought in skateboarding and started snowboarding.

These are the people who went to Nirvana gigs.

These are the people who knew life before and after the internet.

These are the people who own their homes and have a disposable income.

And these are the people that for some very strange reason, brands on the whole, seem to be ignoring.

OK, so I might have piqued your interest.

But how do you reach these people?

Well, to be honest, they’re not an easy group to influence, but they do tend to fall into four groups. And once you understand these clusters, then you can see how your brand can appeal to them.

The four different segments of Generation X can be classed as Pragmatics, Disenfranchised, Thrillers and Quality Seekers.

“Pragmatics” are the Generation Xers most interested in information and the internet. They understand the intricacies of media and marketing. While they’re sometimes considered cynical, there is however, an underlying optimism in their outlook.

The “Disenfranchised” are those dissatisfied with the world and who feel they often are overlooked as they’re wedged between aging Baby-boomers and Gen Y who are now growing up.

“Thrillers” Thrillers are the adrenalin junkies who refuse to grow old. They contributed to the rise in extreme sports, such as snowboarding, skateboarding and skydiving. Remember the Olympics has now legitimized snowboarding.

Finally the“Quality seekers”. This group is at the sweet-spot of personal wealth and sophistication. Quality Seekers are almost cult-like loyal followers of high-quality, localized brands. Quality Seekers are willing to spend more to get superior ingredients and they are more likely to champion premium brands.

They have become the trendsetters and the early adopters for their generation.

So before you automatically write 24-30 year old or 35-45 year olds in the Target Audience box on your Creative Brief. Pause.

Ask yourself, is there a better, more sophisticated and wealthier audience I could be talking to? An audience that is at best being ignored, but at worse, being patronized and wrongly stereotyped.

*Source: 2011 Census: Usual resident population by five-year age group and sex,  local authorities in the United Kingdom, Access 23 December 2012.