Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Agile marketing and news jacking - marketeers do love buzzwords

Marketers love buzzwords and new ways of working, it’s in our nature. Last year the big buzz was all about content marketing. This year there is a new kid on the block called agile marketing.

Agile marketing got its name from a type of software development where small teams work quickly on projects, releasing updates in smaller “sprints” rather than big lots, testing and improving as they go. The theory behind agile marketing is to take that style of working and apply it to modern marketing methods.

So instead of a full year’s plan of working, “agile marketers” set out a summary annual marketing plan with themes and overall objectives. Then each month they create more detailed plans of work and review activity weekly against what the current need is and against the annual themes and objectives. That’s the theory anyway.

Of course like all things the theory is quickly swamped and forgotten and already agile marketing is being used as a catchphrase for any quick marketing efforts. Especially brand messages linked to the latest news agenda. In 1952 it took 2 days for the news of the Lynmouth flood disaster to reach the national press. Today we expect that if something happens around the globe we hear about it instantaneously as reports are posted and tweeted across social media and picked up by news channels.

Brands are constantly looking to put themselves in front of us wherever we are in both the real and digital worlds. To engage with us they need to deliver fresh, relevant messages hence you see an increasing amount of messaging linked to the news agenda. The two best recent examples of this come from Oreo Cookies and Specsavers.

On the night of Jan 23rd in the Capital Cup semi final, Chelsea player Eden Hazard kicked a ball boy, cue massive media coverage. On Friday 25th Specsavers had full page ads in most of the national newspapers showing an image of a boy in a vest saying "ball boy" next to a cross, and then below it, the image of a football with a tick and then the optician’s tagline, "Should’ve gone to Specsavers". Clever, topical and most importantly agile.

A bigger global example came from Oreo cookies that, when the lights went out at the Superbowl, sent a tweet out with the message:  “Power Out? No Problem” accompanied with a picture of a cookie with the line “You can still dunk in the dark.” Most impressive about this was the fact that Oreo’s agency 360i had a team ready for anything on the night. This meant that they tweeted a print quality creative designed, captioned and approved within minutes.

To me agile ways of working should be adopted in part but not in total. Sometimes speed encourages people to forget core things like proper objective setting and measurement and writing strong briefs (if only for yourself) as part of proper planning. Those should always be at the core or your marketing efforts. If an opportunity does arise to promote your brand quickly you do now need the flexibility and set up to react.  The next big thing is here and has already been taken over; even the link to news has now got its own term, the frankly awful “newsjacking. We never learn.

Tim Youngman is head of digital marketing for Archant follow on twitter @timyoungman

Friday, 8 February 2013

The reality of creating brand campaigns in 2013

In a couple of weeks I have the honour of being a guest lecturer at the University of East Anglia speaking to a lecture hall full of eager business students. The title of my presentation is the rather esoteric “From inspiration to implementation: the reality of delivering a brand advertising campaign in 2013”. I am of course hugely looking forward to this as not only do I have a passion for giving presentations it is doubly exciting when it’s on a topic that I am extremely passionate about.

Creating the presentation has reminded me how the pressures of modern business means that often you forget key learnings from your education and how they are still relevant. I am sure that those students will have spent time learning about different business and marketing models. I am looking forward to their faces when I tell them that the reality they probably face may contain lines such as “we need more people through the door, sort it”, “our sales are dropping help!” or “it’s a tough time and marketing is just a cost so the budget needs to be saved”.

Luckily here at Archant Towers, our business is about marketing and connecting motivated buyers and sellers, we understand its importance but I know it’s not always the case. We might be facing a triple dip, but those companies that take the time to understand their customers’ wants and needs and communicate with them effectively and cleverly across multiple channels will still succeed. If they have remembered marketing basics like product, price, promotion and place.

Writing the presentation reminded me that it’s more important than ever to set yourself clear objectives, write a brief, even if it’s just for yourself. We are in a world where your message can be placed across hundreds of different channels and quickly lost among the thousands others we are bombarded with every day. Often you have just 1 second to grab someone’s attention so make sure that your creative is standout and remember that clear concise copy is an art form that should be treated as such and refined and refined again. Most importantly measure against the objectives you set yourself whether increase in sales, footfall or whatever and learn from that data.

Marketing has never been so complex with always-on communications, much higher pressure to prove ROI, the sheer volume of data to analyse, and ever more specialisms and channels to understand. My message to these students is that modern marketing is hard and complex and hurts your head on a daily basis. That it forces you to constantly learn new skills as new areas become the norm, from social media to content marketing. That unless you specialise you have to understand everything. From data collection and analysis, to digital techniques to good old fashioned copy writing, design and planning and yes, brief writing and objective setting. However, because of all of this, it is exiting, challenging and rewarding and to me the best job in the world.

Tim Youngman is head of digital marketing for Archant follow him on twitter @timyoungman