AS 2015 LOOMS, SHANE DOYLE SAYS MARKETERS NEED TO THINK IN A NEW WAY
As we enter into the final quarter of the year, 2015 is coming into sharper focus. In readiness, brands need to ensure they focus in the right areas. While some of the issues we think are important are not brand new, there are a number of things which are critical to get right next year. There are four strategic imperatives that will help your brand succeed in creating cut-through and increasing consumer engagement next year.
It’s now about story-doing
Storytelling has come back into prominence in recent years in creative communication and strategic planning. The rise in prominence in content, as opposed to advertising, has prompted a more story-based approach to brand messages. But the importance of creating brand experiences has also increased, as passive messaging is just not an option.
In 2015, successful brands will engage in story-doing rather than just story telling. What does it mean? Brands are vying with content from areas of greater interest and relevance to many of their target audiences. Brands need to do something of real interest to their target and create a story around this rather than a narcissistic approach of telling the consumer what the brand thinks is interesting. A look at Beldent’s work in Argentina which mixed science and art to prove that chewing gum makes people look cooler is a prime example.
Think community management
The concept of community management is not new; that does not mean everyone is doing it well. Rather than thinking about Twitter followers, Facebook friends and CRM databases, we need to think about how we manage the community of people who show interest in us. The channel used to engage is less important than ensuring the relationship is symbiotic.
Thinking in this way allows us to have more cohesive and integrated plans with real aims, rather than a clunky channel specific approach. Take the trend that dominated most Facebook news feeds during the summer: the ice bucket challenge. It gave a community of people task and a payoff (kudos, creativity, sharing and a feeling of doing a good think), with a relatively low barrier for involvement. Another great example is what Unilever did in India.
With no consumer reach through traditional media in rural India, Unilever developed the Kan Khajura station, providing users free access to music entertainment through their mobile phones. The station has now become the biggest media channel in the region, with an audience of 24 million. Of course, Unilever had the station’s sole advertising rights.
Believe in collaboration
Collaboration is nothing new, but embracing it makes a difference. Collaborating with users in generating insights and potential product development can be key. An example is Beats by Dre, who teamed up with HTC for the launch of Jay-Z’s latest album. It signalled intent to both the industry and consumers that Beats and HTC wanted to ‘shake-up’ the music scene.
The exclusive release to Beats’ and HTC customers, empowered the end user who felt as though they were receiving something special, added value for being a brand supporter. Collaboration with different experts and agencies can be a leaner approach to better work.
Content versus relevance
How many times have you heard the phrase content is king? There is an emphasis on creating content for a generation that side steps traditional media channels and lives on a diet of self-curated programming. We are rushing towards creating content platforms in the way we once ran to social media: often without a proper purpose in mind.
In the push towards creating content, we can’t afford to forget relevance. Is the content you want to create relevant to your target and even more importantly, is it relevant to your brand? Do you have any business talking about it? Heineken is a brand which stays relevant.
It is a brand with a rich heritage in music around the world and the social side of it brought us Sound Atlas this year. It is a platform which brings different music from around the world to Irish consumers. It is relevant to Heineken’s target audience and relevant to the brand.
Creating the right strategy for the year ahead is always a difficult task. In many cases, it is often easy to look at last year’s plans and amend them, but, by the very nature of marketing, trends are constantly developing and evolving which can alter audience behaviour.
As brand guardians it is essential to keep up to speed with and address the needs and wants of target markets. Marketers need to dig deeper when it comes to brand strategy, think broader and challenge themselves to try and take the brand somewhere new. It can be challenging, but one worth pursuing if you want your brand’s success to continue.
Shane Doyle is strategic planning director at MCCP