30 May 2017

The new normal for marketing is here

Ben Shipley.
The concept of personalised marketing is more advanced than ever in a digital age where opinions are transmitted at the speed of the Internet on social media. "The audience has a bigger appetite for the right type of content than we necessarily understand," said Ben Shipley, MD, Spectrum Group, who linked learnings from the election of US President Donald Trump to bring this home at the first Kopi with Spectrum Group in Singapore. 

In How a giant orange hate carrot won the US Election and changed communications forever, Shipley shared that US President Donald Trump's election win has many new lessons for marketers around the world. He is already seeing some of the same techniques put into place by brands in Australia and New Zealand, he said.

The idea of a clear single message that a brand can keep returning to is no longer marketing gospel, as Trump has been able to stretch his brand to mean different things to different micro-audiences, Shipley explained. "(Trump) biffed that concept right out of the window," Shipley said. "To each group he delivered a message that was relevant and which was contradictory to the one that was delivered the day before."

"He bridged issues that in the past would have absolutely ended his campaign," Shipley added, pointing out that with a stretched brand the failure of one message does not mean catastrophe for the brand as a whole. "Brands need to work out how to be more relevant to more people, and less unitary."

While being all things to all men is unlikely to work in a group setting, finding common ground with separate micro-audiences is effective, Shipley said. Despite conflicting messaging, people tend to connect to the messages they feel are relevant to them, the "one thing that made the difference", and compromise on or ignore messages which they did not like, he said.

Brand relevance is important, however. Brands need to look for a connection with their audiences like Trump did, versus inserting themselves at random into their target audience's lives and shouting about how big and fantastic they are. One way that Trump connected to his audience was through positioning 'us' against 'them', Shipley said.

"Trump owned that hero position," Shipley observed. "Brands want to be the hero, but the audience is surrounded by choice and (prefer to engage with brands) they have an emotional connection to...For brands there are opportunities to do that with the audiences you are chasing, particularly if you have a single, tightly-defined audience."

"There is a market for authenticity, Shipley added. "It is still important to work out what that connection is. You can't have a brand that just means one or two things."

Triggering the media is another lesson. "The media is biased to drama and he gave them drama in spades," Shipley said, noting that Trump received 10 times more earned media than any other election candidate in the US. "We have got to look for the drama and emotion in our earned stories as well. It doesn't have to be about shock and aggression."

One good example of using emotion in narratives is Qantas, whose Welcome Home and Feels like Home campaigns use emotive ways of talking about returning home after a journey, Shipley said.

A provocative move in 'enemy territory' can also create buzz, Shipley said. He shared his experience of putting up advertising in an area where people were unlikely to buy the product. The ad ended up making "people who love your brand love you even more". "The people who are outraged aren't going to buy your brand anyway," Shipley pointed out.
Speak simply, Shipley advised. Marketers often get caught up in trying to work out the set of words they can own, but end up confusing the audience as their messages are not part of the language set that their target customers are using, he explained.

In an analysis of the grammar and vocabulary that US election candidates used, Trump was "an outlier" in the simplicity of the language he used, Shipley said. "The language he was using was much more connective, much more eloquent," he noted, pointing out that the demographic that Trump appealed to preferred the way he spoke.

Curated content can provide a ready viewership for a brand, Shipley added. He elaborated that Breitbart, the go-to medium for the right wing in the US and a significant platform for Trump, has more engagement than most of the brands as it validated the thoughts of a particular segment of the US population. Trump also leveraged other right wing sites to push content into the social media feeds of people who were likely to be right-leaning. "Trump seems to have managed to activate the white vote in the same way other racial groups had done with elections previously," Shipley said.

"More and more people are sitting in smaller and smaller rooms surrounded by (other people who) vigorously agree with that opinion...niche interest groups definitely work."
The Trump election experience reinforces the idea that brands should build media channels of their own, as it is harder now to get media coverage in a shrinking media landscape, Shipley said. "If you can write good content that is not full of brand wank (it will resonate with your audience) but you do have to make sure it's not about you, it's about the audience," he said.
Digital tools such as Taboola, and Outbrain can also increase the longevity of content, Shipley added. "Sustaining a piece of coverage and keeping the right audience engaged is an interesting (concept) that not enough brands are making use of yet," he said.

Another digital concept that is emerging relies on long-term analytics. Shipley said that with new people joining audience every day, what is effective one day may no longer be so in the next. "It may be better to have a publishing approach," he said. "Upload stories regularly and then get the data and see how they are performing."
The industry now has the ability to make decisions based on real behaviours instead of theoretical insights, with companies such as Cambridge Analytica able to generate psychographic profiles that can determine more about mindset and intent than was possible before. The University of Cambridge Psychometrics Centre has come up with ways to analyse social media feeds that can say a lot about a person, Shipley said, and additional data can be gathered through various means including quizzes on Facebook, which typically require permission for the quiz maker to do data mining on that user's account.

The main challenge for marketers, Shipley said, lie in moving from the traditional marketing approach of a single, overarching message to determining and maintaining several variants of the message. "How do you talk about a product, offer or idea in a way that makes them go 'I want to buy'?" he said. "Using Facebook data is not enough to (determine) the absolute decision, but when you start to lay third-party data on top of it, it becomes accurate very fast.

"We're not too far away from the point where we are have a model of an ecosystem and be able to test campaigns and ideas and messages before they get to market. We (have to try) to get our heads around modelling and having machines in charge of campaigns definitely makes marketing a lot more complex but potentially a lot more effective as well."

Try the University of Cambridge Psychometrics Centre psychometric profiling test, which is based solely on social media
posted from Bloggeroid