understanding the changes in marketing (and how to take advantage)

Marketing is undergoing major change and upheaval. Marketing has changed more in the last 10 years than in the previous 50. Technology, mobile devices, social media and the internet have completely changed everything about how consumers go about buying things, engaging, and communicating with each other and brands. Marketers are drowning in all of change and disruption, and many are feeling desperately under-skilled and without the necessary awareness and knowledge with which to rethink marketing along new and integrated digital lines.

Traditional marketing has fallen from its long standing pedestal and become only one part of a much bigger and more intricate marketing ecosystem at our disposal. Traditional marketing still has a place within the marketing mix, but it is no longer the be all and end all of marketing strategy. Now brands have a much more diverse range of options to consider when devising a marketing strategy.

The new and improved capabilities of digital marketing have shown up the limitations of traditional media, and has provided a better way for brands to create, develop and maintain relationships with consumers and customers over time. Here are some of the top reasons why a digital first marketing strategy is needed: (from www.smartinsights.com)

10 reasons why you may need a digital channel strategy?

1 You’re directionless

I find that companies without a digital strategy (and many that do) don’t have clear strategic goals for what they want to achieve online in terms of gaining new customers or building deeper relationships with existing ones. And if you don’t have goals you likely don’t put enough resources to reach the goals and you don’t evaluate through analytics whether you’re achieving those goals.

2  You won’t know your online market share

Customer demand for online services may be underestimated if you haven”t researched this.  Perhaps more importantly you won’t understand your online marketplace: the dynamics will be different to traditional channels with different types of customer profile and behaviour, competitors, propositions and options for marketing communications. See online marketplace methodology post.

3 Existing and start-up competitors will gain market share

If you’re not devoting enough resources to digital marketing or you’re using an ad-hoc approach with no clearly defined strategies, then your competitors will eat your digital lunch!

4. You don’t have a powerful online value proposition

A clearly defined online customer value proposition will help you differentiate your online service encouraging existing and new customers to engage initially and stay loyal.

5. You don’t know your online customers well enough

It’s often said that digital is the “most measureable medium ever”. But Google Analytics and similar will only tell you volumes not sentiment. You need to use other forms of website user feedback tools to identify your weakpoints and then address them.

6. You’re not integrated (“disintegrated”) 

It’s all too common for digital to be completed in silos whether that’s a specialist digital marketer, sitting in IT or a separate digital agency. It’s easier that way to package digital marketing into a convenient chunk. But of course it’s less effective. Everyone agrees that digital media work best when integrated with traditional media and response channels.

7. Digital doesn’t have enough people/budget given its importance

Insufficient resource will be devoted to both planning and executing e-marketing and there is likely to be a lack of specific specialist e-marketing skills which will make it difficult to respond to competitive threats effectively.

8. You’re wasting money and time through duplication

Even if you do have sufficient resource it may be wasted. This is particularly the case in larger companies where you see different parts of the marketing organization purchasing different tools or using different agencies for performing similar online marketing tasks.

9. You’re not agile enough to catchup or stay ahead

If you look at the top online brands like Amazon, Dell, Google, Tesco, Zappos, they’re all dynamic  – trialing new approaches to gain or keep their online audiences.

10 You’re not optimising

Every company with a website will have analytics, but many senior managers don’t ensure that their teams make or have the time to review and act on them. Once a strategy enables you to get the basics right, then you can progress to continuous improvement of the key aspects like search marketing, site user experience, email and social media marketing. So that’s our top 10 problems that can be avoided with a well thought through strategy. What have you found can go right or wrong?

On the other side of the media coin we can see clearly the comparative limitations of traditional media: Here are some of the most significant limitations of traditional media:

Lack of Timeliness

Traditional advertising does not allow you to respond to changes in the marketplace as quickly as newer forms of communication. You may have to create your message weeks or months in advance when you run magazine ads. Even daily newspaper ads may require a lead time of several days. Changing broadcast ads requires time and additional production expense. Small business can change Facebook pages, send tweets or update a website in a matter of minutes.

Harder to Target Audience

Modern technology allows marketers to more precisely target potential customers based on the amount of personal information websites collect about visitors. Small businesses can determine in advance not only what type of person visits a particular website, but how often, what they view and other information. Print and broadcast outlets provide media kits with audience demographics, but once a magazine is mailed, a paper is delivered or an ad is broadcast, you don’t know who actually read, saw or viewed your ad.

Less Information

The message you can deliver with traditional advertising is much more limited compared to newer forms of communications. If you can get people to your website with the click of a banner ad or link, you have almost unlimited opportunities to deliver page after page of information to customers. With print and broadcast, you must communicate your message within a few square inches of space or in 30 seconds

The principles of traditional marketing have validity, but there are a new set of principles which have been born out of the digital revolution which we must pay close attention to. Here they are from



What has changed?

Technology innovations have completely changed how our world operates. Today technology allows us to transact across digital experiences, platforms and interfaces with the click of a button.

Consumers are no longer stuck in the linear grooves of traditional media, and are able to customise and control their exposure to your branded content.

The introduction of custom publishing interfaces and platforms have also allowed brands and individuals to create, publish and distribute content to their own organically developed audiences online. This ability to bring content production and distribution in house is becoming a popular strategy for many brands wishing to build their own communities and to create their own content through which to do so.

Technology has enabled brands to make use of disparate sources of consumer DATA for the purposes of achieving better consumer insights and better targeting strategies. This technology essentially works with three primary sources of data available to the consumer (first, second and third party data). Here is a brilliant article by the Content Marketing institute describing exactly how this data can be used to increase accuracy and consumer understanding called Data as Personalisation, turning kryptonite into treasure!

Technology has also automated many functions of marketing which enables marketing teams to become much more efficient, and to dedicate human resources to more strategic and creative work. Here is a great article on marketing automation by www.hubspot.com called What is marketing automation?

Social media has also become central to our lives, and it serves a powerful purpose for consumers wishing to speak out publicly about their experiences with brands and products. This shift in consumer communication has put the consumer in the driving seat of the experience. It is no longer the brand which controls the narrative.

Because consumers are now free to openly criticise brands on social media for poor service / products or engagement, brands need to work much harder to ensure a value exchange with consumers that does not encourage negative feedback on social media.This value exchange occurs from the first moment a consumer comes into contact with your brand, and it continues across all communications touch points until purchase is made, and then afterwards too during brand feedback and customer support. Content has become a much more dynamic tool with which to create and measure the effect of each touch point on a consumer’s experience. It has broken out of the advertising mould of traditional marketing, and it has taken on many new forms and formats.

Because so much of the modern consumer journey is done online (via multiple devices) content becomes the key enabler and vehicle of many of the steps that a consumer will take to purchase. The face to face experience is quickly being replaced by virtual and digitally enabled ones, each of which relies on specific content to create the desired response.

The overall transformation in marketing is the technological ability to track, measure and define the impact of marketing content across the buying journey with consumers, and to use this data to inform and improve on marketing content. This technology allows for overall marketing return on investment to be calculated. Calculating ROI on marketing spend is not easy. There is a key part of this process which relies on the organisational willingness to define the key attribution metrics and measures which will determine the value of each content step in the process. Here is a very powerful article by www.abakus.me called Hello Attribution, Goodbye, Confusion!

Marketing teams have all of the tools and technologies with which to measure ROI accurately but these teams lack the proper skills with which to successfully apply these technologies. Over and above just measuring ROI, marketing teams are generally underskilled to take advantage of what modern marketing and technology can deliver us.

So what are the biggest skills GAPs in modern marketing? Here are some interesting insights from www.smartinsights.com

It is clear that marketing teams believe they have work to do in developing the skill-set required to make the most of new marketing potential.

Why has it changed?

Marketing has changed so much because technological innovation has surpassed and outstripped our current capabilities. These technological advancements have made such a difference to our experience of the world that the implications are unavoidable. Progress has clearly made its presence known.

How to take advantage of modern marketing?

The advantages to modern marketing are huge, but the limited skills within marketing teams to take advantage of these opportunities is a problem. Many marketing teams & leaders are not schooled in the approaches of modern marketing, which means these teams default back to old strategies unconsciously. Many agencies that represent these brands also perpetuate a content strategy which reflects these outdated strategies. Instead of challenging marketing teams to think differently, many agencies simply do whatever the client is asking for, without providing the strategic provocation required to improve the state of play.

The company culture also plays a big part in whether or not your marketing team can make the changes needed to achieve modern marketing success. Many of the important inputs and processes of modern marketing involve a wide range of other departments and leaders being part of the process. Often company cultures are divisive and destructive which creates major problems for productive change to happen. The potential for marketing change to happen comes down to many factors outside of marketing control. Leadership, technological transformation, and customer engagement all have a major influence on whether marketing can achieve new marketing goals or not.

Many marketing teams often contract the wrong agencies to work on their marketing strategies. Or they contract too many different agencies who don’t communicate to one and other. If you want to achieve in modern marketing then you need to think deeply about how to choose your partner agencies. Here is a great guiding post by www.hubspot.com called  Keys to choosing a modern marketing agency

It is crucial that your marketing team is able to produce a compelling business case for modern marketing to succeed. This case would include a rigorous and honest self appraisal of previous marketing effectiveness and key skills GAPs, and it should be able to show exactly how the adaptation of marketing practice is going to build better growth strategies for the brand, which can be directly measured against business targets and metrics like sales, leads, customer service and retentions.

Leadership is also crucial in taking advantage of modern marketing. Without strong and visionary leadership it will be impossible to change for the better. In situations of innovation and emerging practice it is leadership which usually creates the opportunity for change to happen. Marketing leadership must be able to drive the future vision forward within the organisation, and it is this leadership which creates possibility.

Your marketing team must be willing to take some chances and to experiment with new methods. Modern marketing is all about experimentation and learning from the experiment, so if your marketing team is keen to explore in this realm, then they also need to adopt a learning mindset through experimentation and measurement of different marketing strategies and tactics.

Marketing is now a discipline which is driven by research, data and derived insight. It is also a discipline which has become much more focussed on the scientific elements of marketing which underpin modern marketing strategy & implementation. In order to take advantage of this much more scientific and provable approach towards marketing, teams need to develop a much stronger focus on data management, analytics and research.

The focus is clearly on the consumer all the way. This means that the aim of modern marketing is to understand exactly who the consumer is, how they engage and interact online & offline, what their specific needs are (indirect and direct), and then how best to create content which they like and respond to. Without this crucial consumer knowledge it will not be possible to target consumers in the right way, or about the right stuff. Everything about the effectiveness of your marketing content comes down to how well you have clarified the following into clear intelligence.

  1. Buyer profiles / personas which detail everything possible about the life cycle and habits / interests of consumers. This is often not done properly which leads to inaccurate information being used to define consumer preferences, which in turn leads to the wrong content experience being produced.
  2. What are the consumption habits of your target buyers? This information provides you with a clear snapshot of your consumers preferential channels, platforms and content formats. This is critical because without this information it will be impossible to clearly decide on the correct distribution plan for your content.
  3. What are you going to be measuring? What are your goals? How are you going to measure success?These elements are often not clear which is not good for modern marketing. Digital marketing requires focussed targets, goals and measurement criteria in order to work in your favour. Again without this clarity your marketing strategies will be unmeasurable and without clear direction.
  4. Have you conducted social listening and consumer research in order to clarify the natural narratives and interests of your consumer targets? This is a crucial process which ensures that your marketing narratives and content topics are relevant to your consumers.
  5. What are the clear needs, wants, and interests of each buyer persona, and how will your content strategy address the delivery of this specific engagement?

The biggest threat to marketing teams in taking advantage of modern marketing is resistance to change. People and organisations don’t like change much! The changes required in marketing are fundamental in nature, and they impact on and affect the greater organisation as a whole. This means that any changes in marketing will likely lead to changes in other parts of the organisation as well (eg technology stacks). This is going to lead to problems of resistance, fear and frustration, which can cause huge problems to develop internally between staff, divisions, leaders and stakeholders. It is vital that all marketing teams have the awareness, knowledge and skills to deal consciously and strategically with change management.

Understanding marketing and its potential impact on an organisation is bigger than just the marketing team. It includes senior leadership and a variety of other essential partners (influencers / agencies / specialists). Creating a collaborative environment in which a common purpose and vision for a digitally led marketing strategy can be created is vital for success.

Marketing cannot lead this transformation if it does not possess the skillset to do so. Many marketing teams fit this scenario. These marketing teams are not taken seriously by the rest of the organisation because they are not leading the change, but rather repeating the past.

The pressure is on for increased marketing performance! Showing a clear return on investment becomes the best way to secure bigger budgets down the line. Budgets which show no clear return, and which cannot be clearly substantiated, are cut. This scenario is how marketing budgets will be allocated from here onwards. The proof is in the pudding, Without the correct awareness, knowledge and skills with which to achieve this result, marketing teams are going to become increasingly pressurised by senior executives to show results which they are not skilled enough to achieve. This scenario is one which is causing many marketing teams sleepless nights!

The time is now for marketing teams to begin to establish a clear view of the awareness, knowledge and skills needed in order to be able to thrive in the modern marketing environment. Without this clarity and vision for the future marketing teams will continue to repeat the past in spite of better and more advanced strategies.


Many brands do not have a documented digital marketing strategy, and operate in an ad-hoc manner when it comes to digital marketing. This is largely due to the fact that the average marketing team does not understand modern marketing, and therefore cannot define a clear strategy and plan for it within their organisation. Without a clearly documented strategy there is no way your organisation is even thinking about how to take advantage of what modern marketing has to offer. Have a look at this slide taken from a survey done by Smart insights in the UK

If this is what the situation is like in the UK, can you imagine what south Africa would look like? It is clear that many organisations are not ready for modern marketing. Is yours? Have a look at this brilliant slide which shows the varying levels of digital maturity an organisation can strive for. Where is your organisation placed?

Without understanding where your organisation is placed in its digital maturity, it is also very difficult to define a suitable starting point for your modern marketing strategy, because your strategy will be determinant on the maturity factor of your organisation.

Understanding modern marketing, and how to take advantage of it, comes down to how well you understand your own organisations potential for digital transformation. This conscious awareness is what will define your modern marketing development roadmap into the future.

Without strategy your content is just stuff, and the world has enough stuff

FeaturedWithout strategy your content is just stuff, and the world has enough stuff

I simply cannot believe how much content is created every year without a whiff of strategic thought behind it! The thing that surprises me most about this scenario is that a ‘lack of strategy’ seems to be the norm and not the exception to the rule. Over and over again it seems to me that there is never really enough time afforded to think properly about strategy.

Perhaps a more telling truth about strategy would be the fact that many businesses will tell you they are operating from a clear strategy when in fact they aren’t. What they are really doing in making strategy up as they go along. This isn’t really a problem if you have consciously chosen an emergent strategic approach, but it is indeed a problem if you think your strategy is pre-determined when in fact it is really an emerging series of tactical decisions happening all around you that you have very little control over.

Without a clearly defining strategy your content with never reach its intended participants, goals or outcomes in the ways you promise your client it will. Strategy provides a clear plan on how to solve the clients (and the consumers) business challenge through your chosen content mix.

It seems to me that ensuring there is definite time and focus put aside for strategic planning and strategy formulation is one of the biggest challenges content agencies and clients face in the fast paced world in which we operate. This situation can be made more complicated by the fact that the brief may come from a third-party which then immediately brings into question the quality of that third parties strategic process. Perhaps they also just made up some nice sounding strategic objectives that the client will like?

So how does one actually go about formulating a useful strategy for your content marketing project? Well really it comes down to asking some fundamental questions about what you are actually trying to achieve to which you will find credible answers which are hopefully based on actual insight and not thumb-sucking. Have a look at this list of key content related questions (from ISCOOP.com) that a solid content strategy should answer:

Who are the buyer personas and what are their content needs and preferences?

This questions looks at the type of information different ‘archetypes’ of buyers seek during their buying journey and maps the customer touch points, preferred communication channels, and – to some extent – the content formats, although that’s a question for the content strategy too. Buyer personas haven’t been invented for content marketing. They are used for an overall marketing strategy. But in a content marketing strategy you take a more complete look at them.
Which marketing and other organizational goals can we realize or improve by better using content marketing? An example: traffic building, conversion optimization, event marketing, lead generation and management, email marketing, social media marketing, marketing automation, customer service, etc. can all be improved by a better usage of content and content marketing. Your content marketing strategy looks at this. As a matter of fact, don’t just ask what organizational goals content marketing serves as in the chart. Many people, especially those calling the buying shots, have no clue what content marketing is and so do many executives, even in marketing. So, ask what organizational goals you can support and strengthen instead of trying to separate content marketing from the overall equation.
Which content marketing metrics and KPIs do we need to gauge success, in correlation with other marketing metrics and KPIs?

Although there are some typical metrics used in content marketing it’s important to speak a common language across all marketing and even business efforts. Content marketing is not an island. One of the crucial success factors in implementing marketing ROI across the organization is finding common metrics and using a common language between different departments.
How will we structure the internal organization – or better: how will we make sure that all content marketing related processes and flows are properly organized, in correlation with other marketing processes and/or teams?

Often, content marketing thinkers advice to build teams that are more or less dedicated to content marketing. In practice, this seldom happens (except in some major firms) and teams better focus on the tasks and goals than the exact roles, realizing each company is different.
For which other marketing goals and even business purposes – on top of the usual suspects – can we use content marketing?

Examples: to support your customer service team, to empower sales, to optimize website conversions, etc.
Which organizational processes, stumbling blocks, competitor data, management goals, customer insights, business stakeholders, teams, external partners, overall marketing priorities, etc. do I need to know in order to succeed?

Before even thinking about content strategy, content inventory or content production, these crucial questions need to be known.
How is the industry you are in changing?

And more specifically: how is the buyer’s journey of your buyer personas evolving in the industries your customers are active in and your business is active in. What role can content marketing play? As an example: look at the evolutions in the B2B services industry. Content plays a clear role but look further. For instance: Key Account Management is a priority in that industry. Can it be served using an optimized content marketing strategy? Also look at the influencer sphere of the buyers in that industry and at the different types of buyers.
What questions do we need to answer and steps do we need to plan to put our content marketing strategy in action and move to the content strategy that looks at more content-related aspects?
What existing budgets can we tap into to better achieve the goals using content in areas where return is below expectations (and what are these areas, of course)? An example: you may have an overall budget for your website but maybe it’s better to invest in more relevant content for your buyer personas instead and putting that design makeover on hold this year. Or maybe your organization invests a bit too much in generating traffic and leads but conversions stay behind. You can turn down the volume a bit and invest more in conversion optimization and lead nurturing, using content.
How do we forecast and get budgets when no existing budgets can be tapped into or adapted?

If your organization is missing out on important opportunities – and it always is – you need to make the calculated case for additional budgets.
Without Strategy there are not useful questions being asked about your challenge which implies that there will be no useful answers found either, which in turn suggests that whatever content you are making is going to fall far short of its true potential.

Be strategic before being creative! It can only help!

Inbound and Outbound – the easy way to understand modern marketing

FeaturedInbound and Outbound – the easy way to understand modern marketing

It is very clear to me that there is a lot of confusion when it comes to explaining the modern media landscape. Terminology and catch phrases like ‘content marketing’ or ’trans-media’ or ‘social engagement’ and various other equally confusing terms are bandied about on a daily basis like these are fundamentally understood common terms which they are not yet!

I have been wondering how best to explain, in the most strait forward and non threatening manner, how our modern communications landscape operates today. I think that this is the best way to simply explain it to anyone:

Firstly it is important to note that all marketing or branding related requirements stem from an overarching communications strategy which subsequently feeds into marketing, brand and advertising strategy.

Within the communications ambit of most corporations and businesses you will find two primary communication strategies. These are best referred to as:

Outbound and inbound marketing 

In essence these two terms describe most simply how the modern communications works. Below is a great visual from Rand Fishkin from Moz.com so have a look at the key differences in each approach.

Outbound is all about creating awareness and presence through interruptive methods. This is usually via traditional advertising broadcasters or via online advertising through banner ads and pre-rolls and so on.

Inbound is all about earning the genuine interest and attention of consumers from creating compelling, relevant and targeted content that they choose to consume because it adds value to these consumers lives. This content draws consumers toward the brand, ensuring that consumers are leading the journey to purchase.

Today we need to have a good mix of both outbound and inbound methods in place, especially if you operate in a country or region in which the online revolution is happening at a slower pace and is a little behind. In these countries there will still be a strong focus on traditional or outbound marketing communications which will often overshadow the inbound angle. This is usually because many consumers in these countries still use tv, radio and print through traditional means (e.g. sitting next to the radio or watching tv at home with the family) and are not yet engaging confidently and fully via online channels like mobile, social media and e-commerce.

Content marketing refers to all the inbound aspects of marketing communications whereas traditional advertising refers to outbound marketing and communications.

Did this make things any easier to understand?

Rethinking traditional media offerings to make more sense (to consumers) in a growing digital South Africa

FeaturedRethinking traditional media offerings to make more sense (to consumers) in a growing digital South Africa

Traditional media has gone through the wringer over the last 10 years or so. Globally traditional media channels have shown major drops in revenue and a significant drop in viewership in favour of online content consumption.

However in South Africa and in other developing countries across Africa traditional channels like radio, tv and print are still core communication channels used to connect with the majority of its citizens. It is also clear that, based on the following research from worldwideworx.com , South Africa is also showing significant adoption of new media channels, especially social media channels, which suggests that there are a growing numbers of South Africans out there, across a wide socio-economic variance, who are looking for opportunities to engage with friends, brands, fans and consumers in a heightened and more connected dialogue that uses content, digital technology and predominantly mobile devices to do so. Have a look at these new media adoption figures for South Africa  in this Social media executive summary for 2015 from worldwideworx. What is extremely exciting about these trends is that coupled with our leapfrog adoption of mobile phones in South Africa it clearly shows that online mobile communications is where we need to be focussing.

However, while we are building these future strategies to engage consumers across the spectrum of channels available to them, there is still a huge amount of traditional media being created by brands and this will continue for a long time to come. My question is this:

Given that South Africa will still be producing piles of traditional media for traditional channels for some years to come, how can traditional media houses or agencies start to think differently about the purpose and potential of these traditional placements?

What do I mean think differently?

In the dark ages of the 80’s & 90’s (technologically speaking) Traditional media served a simple role – to produce outbound content to sell a brand and its products or services to consumers. There was no extra requirement of this content as it served only to tell and to show consumers how wonderful a particular brand or product was and where to buy it. Very little focus was put on creating engagement with consumers through the content. This engagement generally happened in store or via a telephone call to sales or customer service.

As social media started to grow it became clear that there was a major gap between the outbound brand marketing message and the actual product or service experience had by the consumer. This gap was made very wide over the years by a deluge of one way brand & product centric content which only increased consumer distrust and decreased consumer loyalty in many cases.

Social media and online engagement strongly signalled an end to the one way communication approach of traditional channels and marked the beginning of a very different and heightened brand to consumer relationship. It was from this point that the concept of ‘starting a conversation with you consumer’ began to gain momentum. Today the focus is all on the consumer and what their needs are. Today brands can engage in compelling dialogues with consumers via a wide variety of communication systems and tools.

So if you are still producing traditional media & advertising in the old way then here are some key questions to ask yourself (or your team) on how to align traditional advertising or media content to some of the key trends changing the method, the message and the outcome of the media & marketing entirely.

1) Have you used your traditional media messaging to drive consumers toward experiences or engagements that will provide the opportunity for valuable dialogue and interactive communication to happen between brand and consumer? A purposeful call to action is vital in achieving this.

2) Does your advertising campaign have a compelling strategy and narrative or is it just a series of tactical moves designed for short term gains?

3) Have you gone out and asked consumers what they like / don’t like / want from your brand and what they want out of your communication with them? Many traditional adverts or content placements are simply not speaking to anyone in particular or they are speaking to a particular audience in the wrong way and causing offence. Have look at this example called Consumers fed up with ads of black people dancing! from Destiny Man online.

So it is clear to see that while the transition towards a completely online world is happening fast there are still many traditional media practices out there that will continue to be a feature of our landscape for a long time. If you can’t completely change the method then at least try to apply some of the new conscious thinking that has arisen out of the amazing transformation of the last 20 years.

Break the mould when and where you can and gradually you will build a new way forward.


Rethinking traditional media offerings and how these fit within the media landscape is all about unlearning the automated methods of the past and applying a new and fresh perspective on things.

The first of these automated views that need to change is the bogus idea that consumers really care that much about your brand. They really don’t. What they do really care about is that they get what they were promised by your brand (and ideally more than that). By being great consistently you do gain some consumer adoration but this is short lived if you cannot sustain their belief that you are only in it for them.

Not truly internalising the shift from brand centric to consumer centric thinking is the second.  Because social has changed the power position between brands and consumers brands now need to listen up and respond with responsive solutions. The customer doesn’t care about your brands funnel or process, all they want is ease of transaction and seamless experience based on their own pathway to purchase.

Because traditional media in general cannot be effectively measured is the third. This has meant that there has never really been a sharp focus or culture of achieving business related results through media and marketing. It hasn’t really been possible until quite recently, and even now it remains a challenge for most marketers and media agents.

The modern online world allows for direct and effective measurement of return but in order to achieve this outcome there needs to be a rigorous early stage consultation process with the client and consumers to determine core goals & objectives as well as to determine the core measurement framework and process required to prove results. It is my experience that this hardly even happens because it hasn’t been a core focus until recently. Now that it is a core focus start thinking about how these consultative and strategic development opportunities can fundamentally change the nature of your traditional content for the better.

Please tell me your thoughts!


What specific changes made content marketing what it is today?

FeaturedWhat specific changes made content marketing what it is today?

Content marketing is a very alluring marketing method that has been embraced by many brands across the world in the past 10 years or so. Some of these brands have succeeded hugely through this modern marketing philosophy and others have failed dismally. Despite the obvious challenges involved in getting content marketing right it seems the global pathway for modern marketing is content marketing. It is true that we have been using content to market brands and products for decades but the actual methodology of content marketing is far more evolved and dynamic than using content to market to consumers. Content marketing has only become a lighthouse methodology because of the following major changes:

Social Media

Social media has shifted control from the Brand to the consumer which has enabled consumers to own and direct the conversation online and in public. This has forced brands to reconsider many aspects of their marketing and communications strategy. Social media has also provided a direct and cost-effective means through which brands, interest groups or individuals can communicate directly with their own audience instead of having to pipeline via broadcasters or through one way brand centric channels that do not encourage engagement or dialogue.

Technology driving data and analytics 

The past 5 years or so have seen prolific innovation and development in data tracking and online analytical services, which can now provide a strong and clear view of the measurable aspects of a content marketing strategy. Don’t be fooled though as it is still a challenge to prove ROI. Most of this challenge comes from focussing on campaign driven ROI which is not the way to go. A better way to approach ROI would be based on the complete content marketing strategy. ROI is not something that comes from analysing individual campaigns but rather from understanding the overall detailed impact of content marketing.

Content publishing technology 

Content publishing platforms have exploded across the world in the past 5 years! The ease and efficiency with which anyone can develop, create, curate, publish and measure their content is astounding! Content publishing technology like Hubspot.com or Hootsuite.com are great examples to have a look at in terms of how custom publishing software can make a huge difference in your ability to publish content at the scales required by your organisation.

Consumer centric solutions & content based on research

Today it is all about consumer centricity. Brands now need to focus completely on the consumers needs and wants. Content marketing allows for a far more engaged and dialogue driven approach to connecting with potential customers and done well it provides a far deeper understanding of the consumer than any traditional marketing methods. Content marketing is about starting a compelling dialogue with consumers, something that cannot be done without a solid content strategy in place that is designed to serve the needs of clearly targeted consumer personas. defining your target audience is not just a list of generic metrics like salary, ethnic group and location. While these are important and telling metrics there is a far more thorough persona profile that is required to gain any really insightful information about your consumers. Have a look at this great e-book which will give you a brilliant view of how to create powerful buyer personas. If you are battling to see a real person with human qualities, behavioural traits and real problems in your target personas then you have some work to do. Have a look at some brilliant resources on How to create personas at the Hubspot.com knowledge academy.

All choice is in the hands of the consumer

The consumer decides everything. Where to consume, when to consume and what to consume. Today the concept of a marketing funnel is falling away, because it is clear that consumers do not follow a designated path to purchase. If you analyse how consumers move through a brands purchasing gates you will see that these pathways to purchase are many and varied, not to mention beyond a brands control. Brands are now key influencers and facilitators of change in the world of consumer engagement, customer service and user experience online and off. This low modus of control experienced by brands is made even worse when the experience provided for consumers across channels is weak and therefore unyielding. Content marketing in a modern world is all about realtime and fast responsive problem solving on behalf of the consumer, and you cannot achieve this if you are not aware of the consumers context. Here is a very useful infographic showing the Journey mapping process.

The online model drives everything else

In today’s world everything should be driven by an online strategy. Even if you are not currently experiencing a huge need for this online core it is definitely what will drive the future of all marketing activities. Why? Online provides the active model through which your complete marketing strategy can be activated, connected, integrated and measured. This does not mean everything needs to be online but it does mean that online defines and integrates everything else into a holistic and intelligent framework.

All of the elements above have contributed fundamentally to the emergence of content marketing as a credible and powerful methodology that works wonders if you do it properly. Have a look at some brands that are Content marketing like a boss! for some great examples to follow and to learn from.

Until you understand the fundamentals of how the brand / consumer communication landscape has changed and why it has, I would suggest holding off any plans to start advising any clients about marketing, content or consumer engagement until you and your organisation understand the complete picture. this does not mean you have to understand everything there is to know about content marketing but rather that there is a foundational knowledge required before you can build anything that your clients are going to thank you for!

I would like to hear some thoughts on this if you have any feedback to give?

Do you have a vision match with your client?

FeaturedDo you have a vision match with your client?

Establishing a ‘vision match’ with you client is crucial if you want to close sales. It is also crucial if you want to solve the clients problem properly and get repeat business.

Too many trigger happy salesman rush far too quickly into selling their solution rather than understanding the clients situation fully beforehand. This is a huge problem for many sales teams and I think it is important to make some clear distinctions about the kinds of sales I am talking about here.

I am not talking about…..

Transactional selling which is really about treating the product or service as a commodity rather than a strategic investment. We participate in transactional engagements on almost every trip to the grocery store, and we for the most part, don’t give it a second thought.

This describe a sales strategy that involves focusing on achieving quick sales without a significant attempt to form a long-term customer relationship. A transactional selling strategy tends to be more common for a business that offers a fairly generic product or service with the objective of profiting by making a high volume of sales.

am talking about…..

Strategic Selling which is a long-term sales strategy that typically takes 6 months or more to complete. In some extreme cases, I have witnessed an 18 month sales cycle but these are not typical of the marketing & advertising industries. In today’s environment, these are taking even longer and transactional sales are beginning to mimic the cycle times of typical strategic sales. Strategic selling is a systematic sell in that a formal process is undertaken on both the buying and selling side. A strategic sale is one that demands an ROI because it is usually a capital investment project. The rand amount will vary according to what you sell and to whom, but my experience in enterprise sales the typical deals are R5 – 10 million. With this rand amount there is a lot at stake on both sides.

The complexity of a strategic sale involves many decision makers from the buying side and many reviewers from the selling side. With strategic selling it is crucial that you have a strongly developed sales strategy for each of your enterprise or complex accounts and that you try to make use of a solid sales methodology to guide your success.

I personally use the Value selling framework which it hugely powerful when it comes to navigating the waters of strategic selling with context and a whole brained focus on solving the clients ‘business issue’.

This methodology is brilliant and I have used it successfully to sell management consulting processes, training workshops, advertising campaigns and organisational development solutions and more. The process itself remains the same, simple and very sharp!

So how does all of this help me to get a vision match with my client? Well it works like this.

In order to get a vision match with your client you first need to have qualified your prospect fully. In order to do this there are 3 equally important aspects of managing your strategic sales process which need to be satisfied. If any of the following are not clear and established your sale is in serious threat of failing to close.


Do you understand the value of the proposed solution in the mind of the buyer? How is this solution going to generate a clear and unambiguous potential to achieve defined business and personal results for the buyer?


Have you met with all key buyers in the prospects company and have you established a unanimous view on the way forward with all of these buyers?


Have you established a clear plan in collaboration with your prospect as to how to mitigate risk in the process leading up to close!

If any of the above are not clear or unsatisfactory there is a strong chance hat your sale will stall or fail completely.

So in order to qualify a prospect you need to multiply value x power x plan which  results in a vision match which means that

the solution is the same in the mind of the buyer as it is in the mind of the seller.

Value selling brings all of this together in a beautiful little sales formula which looks like this:

QP = V x P x Pl = Vm

I would recommend having a look at The value selling fundamentals here which will break it all down for you. Value selling is a great resource of information and free content to help you out so I highly recommend them as a partner in your strategic selling learning journey. I also did some brilliant courses facilitated by Value selling which made a massive impact on my personal development and ability as a strategic sales specialist.

I will leave you with something to think about. According to Value Selling and associates there are two kinds of value that need to be recognised in the strategic sale

Business Value

How does the company benefit from your solution?

Personal Value

How does the buyer achieve their personal value through this solution?

Why don’t you tell me which one is more important to understand?

Why is digital marketing so important for your small business?

FeaturedWhy is digital marketing so important for your small business?

Digital marketing is vitally important for your small business because it provides you with the opportunity to establish significantly more engaged communication channels with your consumers for a significantly reduced budget.

Digital marketing & especially social driven marketing strategies allow for the small business owner to compete with large corporates, something that has not been possible for decades due to the limitations of the traditional broadcasting system.

Traditional methods of marketing created significant barriers to entry for small businesses, with huge budgets required to get your messages out there to the viewing and consuming public. In the past small businesses have been forced to make do with little to no real marketing or communications presence in their target audiences.

Today all of this has changed.

Small businesses are finding major benefits to modern marketing, especially in the digital and socially driven marketing fields where the potential to conceive of and implement a successful marketing strategy is high.

So what are these huge benefits for small businesses? I have put together a short list of the biggest and most effective benefits digital marketing can provide your small business.

  1. Digital Marketing enables a direct communication pathway between your business and your consumer, enabling you to build your own audience of loyal fans.
  2. Digital marketing generates better intel on consumers and can provide significantly improved ROI
  3. Digital marketing can save you a bunch of money. Read How can small business save money in marketing? by Business2Community.
  4. Digital marketing enables realtime customer service
  5. Digital marketing enables multi-device contact with consumers based on the consumers choice of device, time, place and need.
  6. Digital marketing provides significant measurement and analysis of consumer behaviour and engagement.
  7. Digital marketing prepares you for the Internet of Things

Remember that all of these tools and methods are completely useless if the quality of the inputs are poor. This means that your ability to be strategic, creative and relevant in building your digital strategy is what is going to make it or break it. Do you have the level of talent required to enable top drawer creative and strategic thinking?

Thankfully the old agency model is crumbling which means that it doesn’t cost nearly as much to procure strategic or creative services these days, especially if you are happy to engage with specialists via crowdsourcing or creative hubs online. Again it is your own sweat and effort that will find these people but they can be found if you know how to look for them.

I personally have found the availability of great learning content on digital marketing to be immense and significant. You would be surprised at what is achievable with not much cash and a lot of motivation. As a small business owner you need to make the most of inexpensive and effective methods that can be put to work without too much cost involved.

In todays tech enabled world you can pretty much teach yourself anything. If you have a little self direction and some good search skills you can find the best ‘how to’ guides on almost anything – today we are awash with so much available learning content that many small business owners or entrepreneurs are making use of this mostly free and available instructional content to teach ourselves new skills and subjects. If you have this mindset and you are already actively self educating on these topics you will know how much difference this makes to your business marketing strategy.

So there are two key aspects to getting this right and they are as follows;

Firstly, you as the small business owner and visionary need to understand the new world in which we live and work. If you are operating from some outdated or bogus assumptions about how the internet works and does what it does then i would suggest you change this for a start. here is a great TIME article from the CEO of Chartbeat called What you think you know about the web is wrong .

Take the time to get to grips with the fundamentals of digital strategy too with this completely brilliant presentation by Bud Caddell called Digital Strategy 101 . Take the time to go through this thoroughly because he has done a masterful job of making potentially highly confusing and complicate-able content clear and straight forward to the layman. Liquid gold! this will establish a high-level foundation of the system you are working within and with.

It is easy to get highly excited about many of the glossy mega brand case study examples like CocaCola CS or Redbull; each detailing how content marketing has changed the game for these brands, and for their consumers experience of the brand and its services; fundamentally changing communication strategy from ‘push’ to one of ‘pull’. Attract, engage, convince & covert!

I was chatting to a small business owner yesterday who was telling me how much he thought that content marketing, and the clear driving philosophies behind, are the best shot we have at actually creating transactional and relationship driven networks that matter to both the brands and consumers alike. They all need to get something out of it and not feel cheated. They need to feel like definitely coming back again. Oh ye baby keep them coming!

Basically my friends argument came down to the following

Its great that there is all of this amazing information out there about the great opportunities of content marketing! Case studies pop up from every blog and RSSFeed but often the feeling I get as a small business owner is ‘I am never going to be able to….

a) afford digital marketing at a scale that is suitable to me and my business needs


b) apply it usefully so that i get results that make a clear difference to the growth of my small business.

It is true that you can get seriously lost in the halls of digital marketing expertise but it isn’t true that it has to cost you an arm and a leg. There are many aspects to a digital marketing campaign that remain the same no matter what.

So I thought I would put together what i think are the core digital marketing strategies that any business owner can start doing from tomorrow which don’t really cost anything (or much) except your motivated, and hopefully technologically enabled, self! Or if you do have some spare cash to pay some freelancers to help you then that’s great! But it is important that you have a deep understanding yourself about what you need done otherwise you will have problems! When  choosing a freelance creative or technologist or marketer it is a good idea that you have already worked through some key aspects of your business strategy, ensuring that you highlight answers the following most important questions:

What specific business results you want to drive via your digital marketing strategy?

One of the primary reasons many marketing plans fail is because the specific goals of the campaign or project have not been clearly set. In order for digital marketing to work well it is crucial that you can highlight at least 3 specific goals for the project. The better this mandate is thought through the better your chances of success with your digital marketing.

Who are the targeted buyers for my products or services and how do they engage with / transact with my brand currently?

This is a very good question, and one that has not been adequately defined for a long time. Until now that is. Again we are working with a medium here that thrives on specific detail and instruction. The more semantic information you can use to build your target buyer profiles the better. The more convincing and thorough your work is here the easier it will be to target buyers with very specify needs or interests. It will also be much easier to define your marketing plan to a far more powerful level of specific detail. Have a look at this free instruction manual from Hubspot called Creating buyer personas .

How am I going to create compelling knowledge driven content that will engage my target audience in a dialogue that will attract them to my brand?

This question is probably at the core of what content marketing, or rather the philosophy of content marketing, aims to impart to both brands, creative agencies and publishers alike; What do you know about, care about or aim to achieve that is also a clear desire or interest (or want or need) in the heart and mind of the consumer? I can tell you that is definitely isn’t your product or service. Not yet anyway. Before your brand and your product become relevant your insight and advise, which is generally published via blogs, social media or other media channels, needs to attract a loyal following based on the quality of your content. How is quality content measured? Well it is actually quite a simple set of rules.

Have you considered the consumers need / challenge or interest that you will be addressing through your content?

Does your content have a clear ‘call to action’ which drives consumers to the next step in the engagement journey

Do you regularly dialogue with your consumers to find out what their thoughts and feelings are about their choices?

How does the data you measure drive your future content production efforts?

Who are the key influencers in my field and how am I going to leverage these influencers to drive traffic my way?

If you aren’t organically engaging key influencers in your field you are missing a huge opportunity to build a wider audience, as well as to create a powerful endorsement strategy driven by content marketing. With todays marketing technologies you can get down to detail in defining exactly who you should be connecting with and who to go about doing so. There are a range of great technology platforms designed to assist you in finding the perfect influencer circle. Some of the ones i have tried are:





Some of these services offer a free plan which can still help a lot. Others do require payment but depending on your experience of the free trials you try this might make you feel that the money is worth it. Check these out because they are powerful tools.

Once you have established your core goals, strategic inputs and your influencer circle then you can begin to think about your actual content strategy. By this stage you should be ready to begin putting together a test content calendar, a content guide that allows you to establish your compete content publishing plan in advance. This content plan becomes the blueprint through which you manage your brands narrative across a diverse range of chosen platforms and channels. In your case these are unlikely to include TV or Radio broadcast due to limited cash or as the article stated – no cash! To be honest I think it would be impossible to do this with no cash at all but you definitely can spend small and wisely to achieve a great impact.

I suppose it all comes down to how much you are willing to learn to do yourself? For example I write my own articles for my blog. I am also learning how to analyse my own data from google analytics and to be able to run my own tests and experiments using modern SEO techniques. All of these self-directed efforts make you suitably aware, knowledgeable and skilled enough to be able to drive your own cost-effective and powerful content marketing strategies.

You may not be able to put together the most powerful content marketing plan ever but you can definitely gain significant strategic advantage over your competitors by getting to know your consumers better, through engaging on topics and issues that matter to your consumers more , and through establishing a cause and effect driven marketing system that allows for you to intelligently develop your brand path to growth. The journey to becoming a great content marketing driven business is a long one but the journey definitely starts here and now.

There are so many sources of free knowledge and instruction on content marketing on the internet, or on any other subject for that matter! Use these sources and begin to decide on a few specific aspects of the content marketing philosophy that resonate most with you, and those which are practically applicable to a small business like yours in the short-term, medium-term and long-term.

Make clear goals and never stop learning….

Stay tuned for episode 3…..

Does your brand take consumer education seriously enough?

FeaturedDoes your brand take consumer education seriously enough?

Consider for a moment how many times you have been unwittingly led astray by the organisations in your life. There are some common ones to us all – the bank, the doctor, the government etc. Everyday we all make a series of decisions in the hope that these decisions lead to an improved position in work and life.

But how often do these decisions turn out not to be the right ones, and how often are these weak decisions perpetuated by a lack of awareness, knowledge or skill, both on the part of the brand and the consumer?

Too many brands have relied on a severe lack of available information or suitable educational content in order to sell a myriad things that don’t deliver, devising product lines against murky ‘T’s and C’s’, often under the complete ignorance of the consumer until it is too late. Until the consumer is in over his or her neck.

Even brands that are not cutting dubious corners are still weighted down by the problem of how to create better buying customers; brought about by understanding far more about your consumers needs, the role of the product or service in fulfilling these needs satisfactorily, and the continuous engagement over time due to consumers feeling more informed, more empowered, and more open to engaging with brands because the pay off is clear;

the consumer can be truly empowered by brands that are conscious of using education to enable a better quality of consumer engagement. one in which the buyer has been assisted in finding the best solution for his or her needs and the seller has developed a sense of the consumer needs and behaviours, and hopefully fundamental motivations, and a data driven insight on how to begin the process of fulfilling this need across a converged digital purchasing journey. Over time this increased and more fulfilled engagement should lead to more open and trusted relationships, relationships that play out across a variety of brand, product and service related aspects and through a dynamic digitally networked narrative cycle. The whole point of the narrative cycle, rather than the linear methods of traditional broadcasting, is to encourage engagement, dialogue, crowd sourced problem solving and innovative thought leadership. Have a look at some of these examples from the content marketing institute called Powerful education driven content marketing examples

Part of this lack of education is your own fault as a lazy consumer, you should have red up a little more about the thing before you went through with it. But then often it’s not your fault. Despite you trying to find the information you need sometimes it just isn’t there, or the information itself is so unappealing and dry that you decide to take a gamble rather than wading through reams of mind crunching jargon and flat delivery.

We also live in a world in which specialisation is becoming more and more predominant, which also means a lot of specialised information, content and terminology piling up around us; all of which needs to be translated into engaging and compelling content and UX that can be used to educate consumers on how to achieve their needs more effectively without being sold down the river in a cloud of confusion.

A particularly important aspect of consumer education in South Africa is financial services education and general financial advisory. Many South African consumers are unaware of the basic knowledge and skill required to conduct the most basic day-to-day financial transactions (open a bank account / draw money etc). This problem is a national one but the rural communities generally are the most disadvantaged. Only in the past 5 – 10 years has the focus of consumer education begun to become a conscious strategy, and one that can benefit both consumer and brand in many ways like innovation, customer service, referrals, self-service etc. However despite the serious availability of funds much of the content produced for the purposes of education are seriously lacking in any real appeal and this specialised segment of corporate communications needs to be significantly improved.

The power of education is undeniable and the dynamic use of content marketing to enhance the delivery of these educational strategies enables brands to create powerful networked communities brought about largely for the support and sustained education of consumers, which in turn builds solid ground on which consumers and brands can transact in a way that is most natural to the consumer concerned.

consumer education is a vital part of any content marketing strategy.

It is definitely a two-way street in educating both consumers and brands. The fact is that either your brand is going to take up the responsibility of providing this education, or it will be provided by an independent voice. The consumer. Both of these can be powerful aspects to your content marketing campaign; unless your inactivity or lack of vision creates a problem for consumers in their journey to purchase, which then inevitably leads to the voice of reason and insight being from beyond your allies. Which probably means it is a disgruntled consumer. And it’s no joke

Healthy business growth doesn’t happen without consumer education and the first step to building a connected and loyal consumer base is to provide compelling and educative content that helps your consumers to make better choices when it comes to how they buy, what they buy, where they buy and why they should buy it from you.


How to make content matter more to shrewd buyers?

We all know them, maybe you are one of them, and we all wish we could buy like them. The shrewd buyer is someone we respect or envy (and sometimes hate) because they always end up with the best deals. Shrewd buyers can also cause serious problems for your brands identity and reputation, and possibly even your stock price! They pick things up, minute details and inconsistencies that can immediately make them doubtful of your brands ability to successfully deliver value to the customer. Them or you.

You can be damn sure that these people are all over the internet too with a great social media and blogging power, which makes the potential to do harm to brands that don’t tow the line significant and worth taking note of. And lets not underplay ‘corporate fear’ of social media as a major reputation risk. Have a look at this article by Deloitte called Managing social media risks and reputation risk – A hot board topic! in which reputation risk from social media activity is at the top of the board agenda.

I have included a definition of the word shrewd for some context in describing this buyer type:

Shrewd – definition (Collins english dictionary)

1.astute and penetrating, often with regard to business

2. artful and crafty: shrewd politician.

3. spiteful

Based on these descriptors it is clear you don’t really want to get on the wrong side of these types of buyers. Shrewd buyers expect the best and they are not afraid to use their own intelligence and ability to use your brands inconsistencies or failings to their own advantage. And why shouldn’t they? Corporations of all kinds have been relying on buyer ignorance or indifference for decades to fleece the general public of their hard-earned money. Or they have relied on the lack of consumer centric feedback channels previously available which has meant the consumer never really had the upper hand. Until now that is. This consumer upper hand is certainly not the case everywhere in the world but social media is fundamentally changing the nature of relationships between brand and consumers. 

We all need to start learning a thing or two from these shrewd buyers, both as buyers ourselves but also as the brands supplying the products and services to us. 

So what exactly matters to the shrewd buyer when they are in purchasing mode? I found this interesting article by Marketingland called How to sell to the competitive buyer? which also talks to the shrewd buyer persona. I have included some brief highlights below from the article.

Given these points of differentiation in sales approach it suggests a lot about the kind of content you need to be producing for these buyers. You can be sure they aren’t going to be impressed with anything average or clunky and you are going to have to work hard to create relevant and highly compelling content, and a seamless user experience, that hits the high and low notes of the consumer journey to purchase consistently well.  As a simple set of basic guidelines for creating better content for shrewd or competitive buyers as they can be called, I suggest using the following highlight statements from the MarketingLand article  I mentioned earlier:

Competitive Buyers: The Smallest Buying Group

Takeaway: Even though there are fewer competitive buyers, make sure you include competitive buying motivations as part of your conversion optimization efforts. The work that you do to encourage competitive buyers will also serve to inspire spontaneous and humanistic buyers.

Competitive Buyers Buy Products To Increase Power, Productivity, Leverage, Ability

Since competitive buyers want to be better people, then you should position your products in such a way that they promise self-improvement.

For example, if you sell a SaaS (software as a service), you may be able to market it in such a way that it promises to increase the customer’s time, effectiveness, earning power, and so on.

Competitive Buyers Know When Something Is A Gimmick

You’ll pick up on techniques and tactics in this article, but be warned. Competitive buyers know when you’re being facile. They can identify sales gimmicks a mile away.

They understand the difference between fabricated data and real evidence. They know when numbers and statistics can be misrepresented and skewed. They know when they’re looking at something legit, and something false.

These people are smart. As a whole, they have more buying instincts and higher intuition levels than any other buyer modality. Competitive buyers are smart shoppers.

Competitive Buyers Are All About Results

When they make a purchase decision, competitive buyers are looking for the bottom line. They want results.

If you are trying to make a fuzzy, emotional, feel-good connection with competitive buyers, good luck with that. You’re going to go further with promising and delivering results.

Change has appeal to the results-focused competitor. Change is progress. Change is good.

Competitive Buyers Are Driven People

The competitive buyer is no slouch. These are people who wake up at 4:30 a.m., run a half marathon, teach a CrossFit class, and work in their high-flying executive job until 11 p.m., sleep 20 minutes, and are ready for a new day. They are driven.

Takeaway: Competitive buyers are going to make a purchase, and they are going to make it now. They are not likely to return to a site later to complete a purchase if they find elements that are satisfactory the first time.

Competitive Buyers Operate In A Time-Conscious Way

The competitive buyer is driven by speed. The site must be fast. The checkout process must be streamlined. The conversion funnel must be short. These are people who want a quick checkout time and none of the time-wasting barriers that characterize a methodical purchase.

Competitive buyers have no time or patience for broken sites, complicated checkout processes. Speed and decisiveness are in their personality and behaviour.

Takeaway: Use short sales cycles, quick conversion processes, and you better make your website faster!

Competitive Buyers Respond Well To Urgency And Scarcity

Competitive buyers have their own innate sense of urgency. They’re born with it. Thus, urgency elements on your website will resonate with their desire to act quickly.

Competitive buyers respond well to urgency, because they have an internal urgent drive. Urgency and scarcity are part of their nature and decision-making style. They intuitively understand why urgency is important in a purchase. But urgency alone does not a competitive buyer convert. You must combine the urgency with data.

Takeaway: Encourage competitive buyers to convert by using copious amounts of urgency and scarcity.

Competitive Buyers Respond To Strong Data-Driven Language

Competitive buyers want to be persuaded by legitimate means. Legitimate means data. Legitimate means backing up claims. Legitimate means statistics, numbers, pie charts, and bar graphs. Stuff like that.

Don’t ignore the visual representation of data. A  recent Cornell study found that information in ads is more persuasive when represented visually, even when the charts used are quite basic.

Takeaway: Don’t rely on your emotional language to persuade. Rely on facts. Rely on data.

They Respond To Superlatives

Competitive buyers, as I’ve suggested, are high achievers. They want to be at the front of the line.

Thus, any website signals that speak to this top-shelf mentality are likely to be well-received. In other words, using superlatives is smart.

What are some examples of superlatives?

  • “The best”
  • “Number one”
  • “Top rated”
  • “High ranked

A competitive buyer is likely to take all of this information in a single sweep of his all-seeing eyeballs, understanding immediately that the product will make him a superhuman pile of awesomeness.

Takeaway: Make superlative claims, and back them up with solid data.

Competitive Buyers Like To Be Flattered

You can flatter a competitive buyer, but you have to be careful. Remember, these people can smell a pile of crap like you wouldn’t believe. Straight-up sweet talk is going to get blown off. Instead, you have to subtly appeal to their primal and ingrained drive to be at the top.


Sell to competitive buyers with hard-line results, results-oriented deliverables, urgent signals, powerful evidence, and a set of data that will blow their minds.

Even though they’re savvy and discriminatory, there are ways to win with competitive buyers. Now, you know exactly how to do it.

In my opinion these pointers from Marketing Land provide some brilliant guidelines to consider when you start figuring out how to make you content compelling enough for shrewd competitive buyers to feel comfortable transacting on your site and with your brand.

All content creation must begin and end with a clear buyer persona in mind or you will fail to achieve the conversion rates you hope for. This article shows just how specific, particular and tricky certain buyer types can be in their needs and methods of transacting, and therefore how specific and particular your marketing agency or internal team is going to have to be in creating a content marketing strategy that conveys your brands narrative within designated and targeted buyer persona segments. Get these right and you will start to speak with a golden tongue. Get these wrong and you will be speaking to nobody in particular which will definitely drive any shrewd or competitive buyers strait from your site and to their blogs where they may well tell the world about how useless your brand is.

So be warned and be clever! Always have a clear buyer persona in mind when you are making content. It will be the difference you seek to succeed.

How to achieve the most amazing ‘social results’ from crowdsourcing

FeaturedHow to achieve the most amazing ‘social results’ from crowdsourcing

If you have clicked on this article I am sure you might be asking yourself “what exactly is a social result?” It sounds hmm….? Many might think that this definition has no value and is far too diffuse and vague to actually mean anything useful to anybody! But I assure you it does. Humour me for a second…

A ‘social result’ is what happens when you apply a chosen strategy within your social network and it leads to significant changes and impacts on your social media activity. And not just for 5 minutes but for a sustained and consistent period of time. Notice I didn’t mention good or bad changes. It could be either. It all depends on how compelling your campaign is and how much it resonates within your target communities.

Just so you can appreciate the kind of ‘social results’ I am referring to here are a couple of good examples to get the juices flowing:

1) The Project For Awesome Fundraiser

The Project For Awesome is an online, non-profit fund raising drive organised by YouTube creators John and Hank Green on December 12-13. Fans of their YouTube community, affectionately called Nerdfighters, are encouraged to submit videos advocating for their favourite charities at projectforawesome.com and donate money on indiegogo.com.

The brothers created a 48 hour livestream of internet celebrities to raise awareness of the event, and the hashtag, #p4a, which generated upwards of 100 tweets/minute during the event. P4A has received 1000 videos and raised over $1.2 million. All proceeds will be donated to Save the Children, Partners in Health, and other user-voted charities.

2) Coca-Cola’s #ShareACoke Campaign

This summer, Coca-Cola kicked off a social media craze by removing its iconic “Coca-Cola” script logo from 20-oz. bottles of soda — and replacing it with the 250 most popular first names for American teens.  Fans could also visit shareacoke.com to send personalised “virtual bottles” and share them with friends via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the #ShareaCoke hashtag.

According to the The Wall Street Journal, there were more than 125,000 posts about the campaign across all social channels during the summer of 2014. Coke’s sales rose 2.5% in dollars terms during the campaign. This is a pretty epic result!

Enter crowdsourcing. So what exactly is it and how is it used? Well, if you don’t know and you would like to get the 101 please have a quick look at my article titled Crowdsource it don’t outsource it. There are also some good examples of crowdsourcing in the article, and how it can be used to harness great results ranging from compiling the Oxford dictionary in the early 1900s to launching Wikipedia in 2001 to launching Vine in 2013.

Another aspect of crowed sourcing which is also interesting is that it has only really begun to achieve its true power through the internet and modern technology. So What happens when crowdsourcing and social media merge? Check out some brilliant examples of campaigns that have been run combining the use of both crowd sourcing and social media in this article by Daily Crowdsource.

So how can you use crowd sourcing to get great ‘social results?’ Well, these 5 points from Daily Crowdsource should give you the direction you seek:

1. Built on People Power
Both crowdsourcing and social media owe their existence to the power of connections. When people come together to work towards a common cause, great things are born. Crowdsourcing taps into this groundswell of creativity, empathy and financial support that each one of us has, buried deep inside of us and draws it out to build new ventures and fund radical ideas.

Social media acts as a relaxed meeting ground, a soapbox for airing views, a platform to raise support. From cementing relationships to creating new careers, social media manages to create value, thanks to the zealous participation of its users – people power, in other words.

2. Common Beliefs at Their Core
For crowdsourcing to work, enough number of people with the same interests and convictions need to come together at the same place, at the same time. Crowdsourcing’s short history is littered with failed projects.

Social media is all about common ground. People connect with likeminded individuals, brands and not-for-profit organisations based on the values that they share with them. The millions of fans that leading brands and prominent public figures boast of on Facebook or Twitter stand testimony to the support that their ideas enjoy from the public at large.

3. Game Changers
A brilliant business idea need not languish in the dark anymore in the absence of an angel investor or a bank loan. Crowdsourcing encourages out-of-the-box thinking by democratising the process of starting and running a business.

Marketing was essentially a one-way process until social media made its grand entry. Gone were the days of ads that told people what to buy. Social media ushered in the age of consumers telling brands what THEY wanted to buy.

4. Great for small businesses, startups
Crowdsourcing helps the smallest spark of an idea to get the support it needs to blossom into a full-fledged reality. As an investment avenue or ideas hotbed, crowdsourcing is the perfect and easiest way for a small business to get the support it needs. Startups don’t have to worry about how ambitious their concept may be, the power of the crowds makes it possible to achieve heights that were nearly impossible in the past.

Social media is the first stop for every small business and startup marketer for two reasons a. it helps them connect straight with their audience on a one on one basis b. it is free!

The gigantic marketing advantage that large, established brands used to have is moot when it comes to the creative use of social media that allows small businesses to gain similar results at zero or near zero costs. Smart social media marketing makes all the difference – humungous budgets can take the bench for now.

5. Mutually Reinforcing Forces
Social media and crowdsourcing do not operate in isolation from each other. Owing to their strong similarities, they often cross paths, with fantastic results to show for it.

If you have any great examples you would like to share with me and my network please do! Lets start applying some of these great tools right away!


What do you need to get to the top of your game in marketing?

If you had asked me this question 5 years ago the answer would be nothing like the answer you are going to get from me today; marketing has changed so much in the last 5 years that many of its practitioners are reeling from all the transformative changes effecting the who, what, where, when and why of modern marketing, with practitioners hoping to adapt and change, survive and grow, and ultimately flourish and surpass previous achievements and capabilities to give way to a new hybrid form of marketer with a whole new engine under the bonnet!

In a previous article I wrote titled The 3 most stressful questions in marketing right now? I suggested, based on my personal research and experience, 3 questions that I feel drive to the heart of the challenges facing marketers trying to get to the top of their game. These stressful questions are:

1) How am I going to develop all of the new awareness, knowledge and skills required to be an effective modern marketer?

2) How are my marketing strategies going to measure and deliver business results that actually matter to the business and prove ROI?

3) How well do you actually know your consumers?

If you are trying to decide on how to start mapping your pathway to marketing glory it is a good idea to ask yourself what really stresses you out about your career path ahead in marketing? This is a great place to start since these are definitely going to be problem areas for you that you are going to have to transcend if you want to make it to the top of whatever structure you are climbing or navigating.

By challenging yourself to focus on the things you fear the most you begin to tackle your marketing potential straight on. Behind all of these fears are the answers that you seek.

1) So for me the first thing you need to be ready to do to get to the top of your game in marketing is to ‘face your fears about marketing’. Instead of avoiding the stressful worries and questions, rather make these aspects your core focus in your developmental journey to the top of your game. These are your stumbling blocks.

2) The second most important thing you need to be able to do is to become an agent for change within your organisation. The marketing world is undergoing radical change, and in order for you to create the ‘new way’ you also need to be able to handle change, ambiguity and fast adaptive shifts in strategic direction and implementation. Not every organisation will require a complete paradigm shift but every organisation interested in making the most of modern marketing will go through an inevitable change process which can be uncomfortable and tedious.

3) Self directed learning is a very important aspect of getting to the top of your game in marketing. If you have the motivation and ability to teach yourself new things then this is definitely a strategic plus in getting you to be the best. specifically in tech, mobile and analytics as well as a number of new marketing specific competencies.

4) You must be willing to fail in the pursuit of your success. If you cannot allow yourself to take a risk that might not work out then you will never get to the top of your game.

5) Always ask yourself ‘how can i understand my consumers better through collected and measured data so i can give them more of what they want, when they want it and how they want it.

6) Can you influence others to believe in your vision for marketing your brand, and are you willing to stand by your strategy and fight for it when others don’t. Can you stand alone?

7) You need to be able to conduct ‘tough conversations’ with skill and confidence, rather than avoiding them until your strategy crashes and burns because of poor interpersonal communication and a lack of integrity in the process of getting things done.

8) You are able to translate confusing or complex terms or strategies into clearly described and easy to understand explanations that draw people ‘in’ rather than push them ‘away’. Especially C-Level.

In additional to the points above there are a whole range of other specific marketing skills that are also required if you want to reach for the stars of modern marketing. There is a dizzying list of new competencies and skills required by the modern marketer, have a look at this infographic by Formstack.com called New marketing skills to succeed . The last point in particular exhibits the relevance of key soft skills in achieving success in your career, it has been proven that 90% of top achievers (not just in marketing) have the ability to be level and calm under highly stressful situations. It is during these moments of high stress and often potential conflict, in which your ability to show up and handle ‘tough conversations’ or ‘tough confrontations’ with skill becomes your ticket all the way to the top!

By managing these conversations constructively and with focus you can often achieve aspects of your marketing vision that you would never have managed to achieve without these vital soft skills, enabling you to rise above the chaos and to take your place among the greats! if you are wondering who some of these greats are then you can check out this link called 30 expert marketers you should follow on Linkedin and twitter

maybe getting to the top of your game is about learning everything you can from those that are already there?

What are the three most stressful questions in marketing right now?

FeaturedWhat are the three most stressful questions in marketing right now?

You don’t need to speak to many marketers to get the feeling that things are not just complicated in marketing. They are complex. It didn’t always used to be like this. Things have changed. Now marketers are expected to do so much more than just the traditional marketing components.

To illustrate my point have a look at this infographic from Marketingland called push to pull showing just how much the role of a marketing department has changed, and will no doubt continue to do so at an alarming rate!

Many modern marketers feel that marketing has changed more in the last two years than the previous 50 so if this trend is anything to go by get strapped in!

If I had to choose the three most stressful questions in marketing right now I would say they are these:

1) How am I going to develop all of the new awareness, knowledge and skills required to be an effective modern marketer or manager of modern marketers?

2) How is marketing going to deliver business results through our marketing endeavours that actually matter to the business and prove ROI against marketing spend?

3) How well do you actually know your consumers?

I would love to hear your thoughts on the top three most stressful marketing questions for you too.

pray do tell.

Content marketing with no budget? Crowdsource it don’t outsource it!

FeaturedContent marketing with no budget? Crowdsource it don’t outsource it!

So you can’t afford to create and or pay for all of the content you need to market your business? Join the queue, especially if you are a small business owner in todays tough financial climate. As small business owners we need to learn how to make stuff out of nothing, like weavers of gold thread out of thin air .

if you want to create enough great content for your content marketing campaign and you cannot imagine how you are going to get all this done and paid for!?Fear not. The internet is an amazing resource, and at the risk of stating the ‘bleeding’ obvious I will elaborate with some further detail and examples:

modern technology has enabled a completely new level of participative problem solving. ‘Crowd sourcing’ as it has been called since it was coined by Jeff Howe of WIRED Magazine in 2005, is proving itself to be a highly powerful strategy, or series of strategies, that fit within overarching guiding frameworks, through which a myriad challenges and problems can be solved. Crowd sourcing has rules and it requires effort and structure to work. with the technological breakthroughs of the past 5 years providing the perfect enablement platforms for crowd sourcing to take place on a wholly new level.

Crowd sourcing has existed in many forms before its formal name came into existence. here is an article describing the Top 5 oldest crowd sourcing examples before the internet. Then there are a host of more recent examples of crowd sourcing. From crowd sourced campaign funding from Indiegogo.com to uploading / downloading torrents online, to the greatest example of all Wikipedia.com .

The philosophy of crowd sourcing has been around for ages and it has been recognised as a dynamic and proven method of problem solving and co-creating. Most of us understand what crowd sourcing is but not quite how big its potential use has become with the rise of innovative disruptive  technologies transforming the ways in which brands and consumers behave with each other; and more specifically, how they buy and sell from each other better. Here is a workable and simple definition from Merriam-Webster.

“crowd sourcing is the practice of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people and especially from the online community rather than from traditional employees or suppliers”

This definition tends to go against the grain of how innovation and problem solving are traditionally managed from within organisations. A small few deciding on the future without awareness or strategic interest in the greater potential for insight and innovation from a wider and externally available audience from across the world.

So how has modern crowd sourcing changed the game for organisational problem solving and innovation? this article from innovation management called  how far can crowdsourcing go? gives you a great look at the true capabilities and results of modern crowdsourcing.

But let’s back to content marketing and a specific question; how can I use crowd sourcing to improve my content marketing efforts for my small business? And to do so with no, or very little money?

Well here is a good start for you. check out this simple article by Dharilo with some simple and free crowd sourcing strategies to create useful engagement with your brand called ask and give .

Then I would recommend reading this article by www.convinceandconvert.com called 5 ways crowd sourcing improves your content marketing potential

these suggested strategies are a good place to start because they are free to implement. There may be some costs involved when you do start your content production process but this is the best and most effective way to do it cheaply. But crowd sourcing, regardless of what you are paying for its services, is an enlightening way to go if you are hoping to build an inclusive and consciously engaged brand which understands its consumers so well because it is constantly engaging and learning with them through crowd sourcing methods and strategies.


We live in a time where the capability to engage with crowd sourcing is right at out fingertips but the traditional business mindset often rejects the idea of openness and collaboration and rather reinforces the opposite mindset of secrecy, small groups at the top, and a Chinese wall. In my opinion the most logical and effective way to look for answers is to engage widely with targeted individuals and organisations that are external to your own, and to use the best of what technology and crowd sourcing methodology have to offer you in order to tap into this fluid and significant intelligence in the search for better answers and solutions.


The language of content marketing; getting hired not thrown out!

It is easy to lose a prospective client in jargon and gobbledegook.

That moment when your clients eyes starts to sweat profusely and they begin looking at the clock on the wall. Tick tock.

This is when you need to back off with the technical terms and all the other confusing definitions that come with content marketing and start talking in simple terms; use strong case studies that exhibit the point, and at a pace that the client can manage. Remember that half of your battle in selling anything is in educating buyers to understand your service and its value to their business. This shouldn’t be a hugely complicated process either if you fully understand your subject matter and how it can solve business problems for the specific client in question.

There should always be a simplified way in which to explain something complicated. Nothing exists purely in its most complicated form, especially not during the sales phase anyway. It is crucial that you are able to explain in simple terms what content marketing is and how it can benefit the prospects business.

This explanation should be grounded in as many practical examples you can find, like existing case studies of similar brands applying themselves with powerful effect in similar areas of endeavour.

Make a ‘lingo glossary’ Hubspots glossary of terms

It is also a good idea to clarify a series of terms or phrases with your team (beforehand) and the client so that you define and explain consistent language or terminology that can be used without confusion later on in the process. I would suggest your team facilitates a session in which you come up with a glossary of key terms that will inform your glossary. It is important that you try to simplify these terms too, and that you have an example to exhibit each term in action. This sense making process between your internal teams and your clients will be invaluable in establishing understanding and alignment from the beginning of what can be a complicated and desperately confusing process without the proper preparation.

Don’t hide behind clever terms because you don’t really understand the concepts yourself

People who generally rely too much on jargon in sales either lack self-awareness or awareness of others, or they don’t really understand what it is they are selling themselves. Think about it, How many times have you been in a meeting when the conversation has become so diffuse and jargon heavy that ‘bets on’ no one in the room actually knows what is being said? It is crucial that in times like this you are able to cut through the confusion and provide deeply understood and simple explanations that make sense rather than confusion. Don’t hide behind fancy terms, stand in front of them with simple explanations that make your client feel comfortable with your expertise and with you’re ability to solve their business issue.

Everything can be simplified (if you try hard enough)

Winston Churchill once wrote “I am sorry for the long letter, I didn’t have the time to write a short one”

Simply put it takes time to figure out the best and most effective way to say something, especially when it is very likely the other person listening is probably not very clued up on your area of expertise. keep this in mind next time you are about to open up a can o content marketing whup-ass on an unsuspecting client. Try and ask yourself before you start ‘where is my prospects level of awareness and knowledge on the subject? That is always the best place to start. I came across a superbly written piece by Clarity.com called Content marketing simplified.  This really does explain it all in very clear and start forward language, exhibiting the example that it can be done.

Have you understood the business issue?

It has not been a traditionally held practice for advertising agencies or marketing departments to get to grips with the business issues that drive the requirement for marketing and advertising. Often the actual business issue is lost in all the marketing noise created by a mass of often ineffectual and useless content that only really serves to obscure and muddy the true purpose of the campaign. It is vital that in the explanation of content marketing you ensure that the entire value proposition of what content marketing can offer is focussed around the business related requirements of the strategy or campaign and that these outcomes can be measured via logical and proven methods. It it often here that agencies and organisational management are at odds because they are not speaking the same language when it comes to measurement and content effectiveness. This is not a clearly understood area and it is easy to mislead and to be misled. So before you start rambling off about how well the content will do and how many shares it’s going to get and how viral its going to go, ask yourself

‘what is the client trying to achieve through this campaign?

‘How is the client going to measure this success’?

“Am I understanding the business issues that are driving the need for this campaign in the first place and is our content marketing strategy going to achieve these results”?

Simplifying and making clear the what, when and how of measurement and results reporting is a must if you are going to stay hired so make sure you are clear about results and measurements, and don’t fill the air with useless and meaningless metrics and promises that only confuse the issue and improve your chances of never working again, although this wouldn’t be true because there are loads of very average businesses out there just waiting to sell you a campaign full of #### and likes and traction and page views and virality (oh brother kill me now). all of which leads to the sum result of what? nothing much that is what. Don’t be one of these guys. Be the one who engages properly with the who, what, where, when and why of content marketing. Be the one who gets the impressive results from your campaigns beaches you took time and effort to walk the journey with the client. Be the one who makes your client look good because you have taken the time to understand what is actually going on in their business, and how you can help them to use content marketing to fix it.

Proving ROI

It is no secret that the proof of ROI is often a nonsense game when it comes to marketing. The old and well debated phrase ‘correlation doesn’t automatically imply causation’ makes clear one of the primary battles faced by agencies and brands trying to achieve measurable results. That they can’t. this is a very concerning fact when it may be your client who will be thinking this based on your lat campaign. It is not true that marketing cannot prove ROI but it is true that getting to a place in which you can do so requires significant effort and rigour, not to mention serious change agent boxing gloves. Technology has come a long way in enabling brands to be able to show clear conversion results based on each specific content marketing campaign. Have a look at this clearly written and easy to grasp article by the Guardian called Proving content marketing ROI

All of the elements I have discussed in this post rely directly on sense making in order for them to be effective strategies. if you lose those around you, especially your clients, in the journey to creating powerful content marketing strategies you will become yet another average agency peddling on the low awareness, knowledge and skill of unsuspecting clients. Or you will cease to be because your delivery will always be compromised because you cannot make unnecessarily complicated things simple. And more specifically simple to those who are experiencing it first hand. Simplicity does not belie creativity or impact, it improves on it.


Are there dead ends in your content marketing narrative cycle?

FeaturedAre there dead ends in your content marketing narrative cycle?

A narrative cycle is not poetry reading on a bicycle.

a narrative cycle represents the total cycle of a story from beginning to end. And of course its repercussions and its influence on a wider networked community.

This is pretty straight forward when there are only two people having a conversation. The story can be contained and facilitated to what we hope will be a good outcome. If the outcome is good then its likely these two will chat again, if not, well i think they will look to chat with other people.

In the end it comes down to the value your brand brings to the table, and how well you convey this value through direct or non direct dialogue, live or televised, online or offline methods; and whether you attract and sign up new customers, offer more services, or sell more energy drinks like Redbull. All the while becoming utterly indispensable to your targeted buyers.

Just think about Apple.

How do you succeed as a brand? Well simply put you make sure that you are consciously managing your narrative cycle and making sure that there are no dead ends out there in the infosphere. Dead ends you ask? A small example: I recently visited a website, which will remain unnamed, and I signed up for their company newsletter. Great! Well not really because it turns out they don’t actually have one at all. They just wanted to look more professional. Well I’ll be!

There are countless examples of these loose ends or dead ends. another example is in the use of social media to directly, and publicly, respond to people talking about your brand on social media. Regardless of whether the commentary is good or bad, leaving it unanswered or in stasis is bad practice and in the end it is only your brand that will suffer as a result.

Now consider this conversation being had between a brand and thousands, millions or hundreds of million of customers, suppliers, competitors and various other organisations involved in the business landscape of such a brand. Not so straight forward now is it.

Now the levels of complexity seem nauseatingly huge, especially when you consider that today your brand isn’t in charge of the story anymore. You can start it. you can facilitate it. You can influence it. You can drive it. You can curate it.

But you can’t control it. There are countless examples of this emerging narrative discourse across the web. Have a look at these examples from

Social media and a whole variety of other non brand forums have now created a highly challenging space in which brands must now operate. What does this shift in the belfries of power suggest? Well simply put it means your brand really needs to make a big effort to be

– useful and not frustrating

– Earn its place in the life cycle of the consumer and not just force its way in.

– Listen well and keep listening….

– Add tangible value rather than pretending to offer it and taking something instead.

– Do what you say not what you want

Use information and technology to improve intelligent decision-making rather which helps you to know your consumers better rather than making very broad assertions about consumers based on nonsense general criteria that doesn’t help you or your customer.

If you don’t want your brand to get a bad reputation make sure you always ensure a transfer of useful value between you and your consumer. I don’t like the general term ‘value’ as it can mean many things; by using this term I simply mean the willing transfer of value which could be any number of things like:

Deciding to use the Nike running app – you get the app support to guide your running program and make you fitter, while Nike benefits from all of the personal and fitness data you provide to them in return. This is a ‘willing value transfer’.

Or consider for a moment you would like to learn more about content marketing; there are many great companies out there like the Content Marketing InstituteCopyblogger and Convinceandconvert

all of these brands are focussed on inbound strategies that keep people coming back because they keep getting value from their visits to engagements. Eventually you, or someone else you have referred will buy. And the chances are that if you have had consistently useful and ‘willing value transfer’ with any of these brands they will become trusted advisors and eventually a supplier. Ideally for life. It is all about life time value baby!

A major factor in the success of these brands is in their ability to manage effectively a narrative cycle between themselves and their consumers / audience members that drives sense making and problem solving via high engagement and conversation.

So if you have a clear story, a clear and intimate knowledge of your targeted buyers, a great product or service, and a clearly integrated marketing strategy through which you can drive your narrative cycle into flourishing iterations of value that builds your brand and grows its revenues, then I suggest you tackle this head on and with your full attention.

The power of narrative cycles and your brands ability to facilitate these iterations to a positive outcome is what it all comes down to. It always has been this way. The only pretty massive difference now is that there are a whole load of new skills to learn in getting onto this roller coaster and staying on.

Stay Tuned!


Mr CEO, you have an ‘average marketing’ problem!!

Dear Mr CEO

I do hope that you are all doing well out there running your businesses. This letter is for those of you who are here in South Africa specifically, but please if you do feel this speaks to you, don’t hesitate to comment too.

I would like to ask you all whether you feel that your marketing spend is reaping rewards for your brand? And if it is then how? Asides from reputation and brand awareness (which is quite a lot of it for many brands) what about more specific results like marketing efforts driving cost, volume and quality measures and results, and of course hard sales figures?

Perhaps it is more likely that some of you experience a sea of mediocrity when it comes to your marketing strategy? And what is it that causes this mediocrity? Is it the lack of curiosity in your marketing department? Is it your product? Is it your consumers? This is a list of too many questions to have if you do have a marketing team and/or agency that is doing its job successfully. You should have answers to all of these questions to feel comfortable.

Do you know how many marketing plans fail to deliver on their promises? More than the number that succeeds. So if you happen to be caught in the 50 – 70 percent of marketing strategies that fall flat what is it that they are doing wrong?And more importantly what specific questions do you need to ask your marketing director to ensure that your marketing agency or teams know what they are doing?

There are a wide range of factors contributing to the failure of projects in general, but where marketing is concerned I would suggest focussing on the following key elements listed below:

1) How well does the marketing team or agency understand your business and its vision, and then how this vision translates from strategy into actions which drive the complete consumer cycle

2) Does you marketing team or agency understand who your buyers are, where they operate and how they engage with your brand, and for what specific purposes?

3) How are you going to measure the success of our marketing efforts using data driven and proven scientific methods to source, track, measure the consumer buying cycle better, so that we can use this data to drive future iterations of the business strategy forward, as well as build better relationships with consumers based on improved predictive analysis.

4) Does your marketing team understand how the digital landscape works and how to use this digital network to drive business growth?

5) Does your marketing team understand inbound marketing and its inherent focus on non threatening and influence driven methods to attract consumers to your brand?

6) How has the marketing team distilled the companies narrative into a powerful story, one that is not driven by too much brand but rather more by the voice and sentiment of the consumer as the most important voice; and how will this narrative be spread across the multiple touch points of your brand, ensuring suitable customisation and functional design where and when required so that consumers get what they came for.

Some marketers may argue that it is impossible to properly measure the direct effects of marketing but this simply isn’t true. The famous saying ‘correlation doesn’t imply causation’ has finally become a non issue in many of the technological solutions available on the market today; solutions that allow a granular level of tracking and measuring of crucial actions between the brand and consumer, measurements that  are used to drive future iterations of your strategy forward.

Designed properly and with clearly defined goals a powerful marketing strategy can deliver very specific returns for your marketing rands, so long as the business case and the marketing strategy are strong and aligned, and so long as the C-Level of the organisation support the plan directly.

The effective use of big and small data to measure, learn and predict consumers requirements for a wide range of purposes and transactions is progressing at an alarming rate, providing technology so powerful and amazing that the possibilities are almost too huge to grasp. Some of the most incredible data related case studies can be found by having a look at the work of Bernard Marr in his new book called the Big data case study book.

The big win of high-impact content marketing is that it takes the value exchange away from the transaction of payment and toward the transaction of knowledge – and if you can get your executives to buy into that, the results will be priceless.

Payment is obviously the most important action to drive for your brands bottom line but the truth is that payment or purchase is definitely not the most important requirement in the consumers world. Consumers are far more interested in the actual experience and the value of the product or service in action; before, during and after purchase. Have a look at this article by the Harvard Business Revue called You can’t rely on the funnel anymore

Today it is clear that if you want to get your brand in front of the right consumers, and then engage them, and then sell to them, and repeat this process again and again until you become a trusted brand in the life of your consumers, you are going to have to hire the best.

And who are the best? Well this is a mine field all on its own. I have found some great articles which aim to outline the key requirements of a marketing agency that you may be considering for a campaign or partnership. Have a look at this article called Choosing a content marketing agency

The kind of agency your team chooses to drive your brands reputation and growth is based on a number of specific factors like organisational sector, business size and target audience but there are 4 commonly held factors that any content marketing agency worth its salt must exhibit from the start:

– A clear and curious interest in the business case behind the requirement for marketing your brand

– A clear consultation methodology which is driven by clear case studies highlighting relevant examples

– A committed focus on measurement and driving specified business results throughout the strategy or campaign

– A strong awareness, knowledge and skill in the use of data driven analytics to drive decision-making across multiple consumer touch points

– A research driven approach to insight and development of campaigns

If any of the above are not clearly exhibited by a potential supplier I would suggest thinking very carefully about what it is you are trying to achieve and whether the agency your marketing team has earmarked are up for the challenge. Not being clear on any of the above are definite warnings signs that you need to be looking elsewhere.

I do hope to hear from some of you if you feel inclined to comment with your thoughts.



Content marketing: BIG DATA big difference?

FeaturedContent marketing: BIG DATA big difference?

The more research i do into the current successes of companies utilising big data to achieve amazing revenues and profits the more I cannot understand why more businesses aren’t making more of the applications of BIG and small data?

There are many that do though.

These are data centric businesses of all kinds and they operate from all over the world. These are the organisations that are finally enabling a converged loop of iterated measurement, learning and prediction which is all based on a network of data points which collect, store and analyse ridiculous amounts of DATA every day for the purposes of gaining productive and scientifically proven insight which can then be implemented within further iterations of the business strategy to achieve exponential levels of growth.

It is quite alarming how many organisations don’t use BIG or small DATA is any really productive manner or at all. I could say that this is for a variety of plausible barriers but this isn’t the case anymore. Today we can access all of the benefits of BIG DATA and data analytics. Yes it is something that you will need to invest in but hey, if it takes much of the guess-work out of your project planning and strategizing and if it acquires more of the right kind of customers wanting your products or services then it is worth every cent and more. You cannot put a price on great intel.

If you are interested in finding out more about some of the organisations reaping massive rewards from BIG DATA have look at this link to Bernard Marr’s book called the ‘big data case study book’ which presents some brilliant and powerful case studies of companies that are doing excessively well from big data:

Big data case study book by Bernard Marr.


Content marketing: Consumer education is a powerful strategy

Consider for a moment how many times you have been unwittingly led astray by the organisations in your life. There are some common ones to us all – the bank, the doctor, the government etc. Everyday we all make a series of decisions in the hope that these decisions lead to an improved position in work and life.

But how often do these decisions turn out not to be the right ones, and how often are these weak decisions perpetuated by a lack of awareness, knowledge or skill, both on the part of the brand and the consumer?

Too many brands have relied on a severe lack of available information or suitable educational content in order to sell a myriad things that don’t deliver, devising product lines against murky ‘T’s and C’s’, often under the complete ignorance of the consumer until it is too late. Until the consumer is in over his or her neck.

Even brands that are not cutting dubious corners are still weighted down by the problem of how to create better buying customers; brought about by understanding far more about your consumers needs, the role of the product or service in fulfilling these needs satisfactorily, and the continuous engagement over time due to consumers feeling more informed, more empowered, and more open to engaging with brands because the pay off is clear;

the consumer can be truly empowered by brands that are conscious of using education to enable a better quality of consumer engagement. one in which the buyer has been assisted in finding the best solution for his or her needs and the seller has developed a sense of the consumer needs and behaviours, and hopefully fundamental motivations, and a data driven insight on how to begin the process of fulfilling this need across a converged digital purchasing journey. Over time this increased and more fulfilled engagement should lead to more open and trusted relationships, relationships that play out across a variety of brand, product and service related aspects and through a dynamic digitally networked narrative cycle. The whole point of the narrative cycle, rather than the linear methods of traditional broadcasting, is to encourage engagement, dialogue, crowd sourced problem solving and innovative thought leadership.

Just have a look at these examples for some exemplification:


Part of this lack of education is your own fault as a lazy consumer, you should have red up a little more about the thing before you went through with it. But then sometimes it’s not your fault. Despite trying to find the information you need sometimes it just isn’t there, or the information itself is so unappealing and dry that you decide to take a gamble rather than wading through reams of mind crunching jargon and flat delivery.

We also live in a world in which specialisation is becoming more and more predominant, which also means a lot of specialised information, content and terminology piling up around us; all of which needs to be translated into engaging and compelling content and UX that can be used to educate consumers on how to achieve their needs more effectively without being sold down the river in a cloud of confusion.

A particularly important aspect of consumer education in South Africa is financial services education and general financial advisory. Many South African consumers are unaware of the basic knowledge and skill required to conduct the most basic day-to-day financial transactions (open a bank account / draw money etc). This problem is a national one but the rural communities generally are the most disadvantaged. Only in the past 5 – 10 years has the focus of consumer education begun to become a conscious strategy, and one that can benefit both consumer and brand in many ways like innovation, customer service, referrals, self-service etc. However despite the serious availability of funds much of the content produced for the purposes of education are seriously lacking in any real appeal and this specialised segment of corporate communications needs to be significantly improved.

The power of education is undeniable and the dynamic use of content marketing to enhance the delivery of these educational strategies enables brands to create powerful networked communities brought about largely for the support and sustained education of consumers, which in turn builds solid ground on which consumers and brands can transact in a way that is most natural to the consumer concerned.

education is a vital part of any powerful content marketing strategy.

It is definitely a two-way street in educating both consumers and brands. The fact is that either your brand is going to take up the responsibility of providing this education, or it will be provided by an independent voice. The consumer. Both of these can be powerful aspects to your content marketing campaign; unless your inactivity or lack of vision creates a problem for consumers in their journey to purchase, which then inevitably leads to the voice of reason and insight being from beyond your allies. Which probably means it is a disgruntled consumer. And it’s no joke.

me consumer – me talk ; you brand – you listen.

Healthy growth doesn’t happen without education. Brands cannot learn about themselves or their customers without it.


Content marketing: One ring to bind them all?

One of the many reasons I am excited by content marketing is that it seems to define a time in our world in which technology, content and data are all beginning to work together for the purposes of enabling people to engage and transact their way to a better and more convenient life. And it’s not just the super rich that benefit either; the far-reaching transformations of digital engagement via mobile technology are truly impressive to behold, impacting on a wide range of consumers, needs and challenges.Have a look at this inspiring article from the BBC.


It seems we are reaching a point of truly integrated communication and transaction capability. Today the consumer is in the middle of it all and various brands are trying to encourage consumer participation and loyalty with you…..for the long haul!

Sounds like chaos? it can be if you don’t know what you don’t know.

So best get knowing and fast! As a first point it is crucial that you understand what digital strategy is all about. For a brilliant 101 guide on digital strategy see below:

The digital & software innovations of the past 5 years or so have seen a huge explosion in the availability of data driven services that use digital measurement & tracking systems to record a profile of your valuable activities across all digitally enabled channels and platforms. this could be a mobile phone, a car tracker or a supermarket scanner. but don’t be fooled by the broad promises of big data, rather make sure that you are very clear about the reasons behind tracking specific data, ensuring that you are concisely building data driven growth models that focus on useful and insightful data that can enable you to achieve results in sales, customer service, product development and customer retention. Have a look at the link below for some great examples of useful data in action


Both in the digital and DATA worlds there have been some huge learning curves and many failures along the way. Just like any industry or sector. The only difference is that both digital and data are going to play a key role in every business going forward so best be aware and interested about what these changes are doing to the strategic landscape.

Who can forget the years of painful experimentation with the internet in the late 90’s & early 2000’s? Back in the day when online advertising was basically one big burning money hole with not much in the world of ‘useful business results’. The argument of ‘correlation does not imply causation’ rings true here for most of the last 40 years of advertising and definitely the last 20 years or so of online advertising. In fact only in the last 5 years or so do marketers seem to be pretty sure that direct or can be achieved against marketing monies spent or invested.

Content marketing and its component parts (of which there are a few) seems to provide the best chance yet to enhance the value and potential value of our daily engagements, whether they be peer to peer, b2b, b2c.

The challenge for many businesses wishing to take advantage of content marketing is that many businesses are not equipped with the necessary awareness, knowledge and skills to successfully adapt to the requirements of content marketing. It is not for the faint hearted and it requires investment, senior support and time. It doesn’t have to cost you an arm or a leg though, and the more you learn the methodology and tools available the less it can end up costing you. But no matter how good you are at the game be ready to spend some money. How much depends on a number of factors which are too many to get into now. Lets just say that you need to be aware of the costs involved and how to minimise these where you can.

It seems to me that content marketing done consciously and with strong strategic consideration delivers a level of scientific rigour to the marketing mix which has not really be around before. And with this scientific rigour comes a range of universal thinking skills required to get to the right answers for the right problems that consumers are experiencing.

With increased effectiveness and increased capability comes greater potential to deliver better solutions for consumers using a predefined and consciously considered marketing process, one that is dedicated to engaging a complete systemic narrative that operates within degrees of editorial control and influence. The skill set required from marketing teams enabled to deliver this level of integrated communication & measurement is significantly more complex and dynamic than the marketing roles of previous eras. So if you are in the mood for some content marketing then make sure you spend good time selecting the right mix of specialist team members, agencies and suppliers. Generalist agencies are not a useful thing anymore. Have a look at the following article below on choosing the right content marketing agency:


Once again I am struck by how content marketing has established a credible record for itself in many different sectors and industries. And content marketing has been happening in a more simplified version for decades. Have a look at these brilliant case studies detailing successful content marketing strategies at work:


One thing you can be sure of is that it’s a learning curve so be ready to skip and slide before you surf! Also be ready to do a lot of educating because chances are that if you want to start engaging your business in content marketing there may we’ll  e some puzzled faces in the crowd. This is after all an exercise in change too so there is a double whammy! But despite these any others challenges we live in a time where almost anything can be achieved. So long as the will and motivation exist to achieve it the rest will follow.

So is content marketing representative of an example of a truly holistic engagement model? One which can deliver true value all round? Will we all become the truly satisfied consumers we all want to be? In a world where we are only willingly engaged within the communities we share, both in the real and the virtually real worlds, all strung together by a highly sensitive digital thread.

It seems that the best out there are doing just this and more, always striving to seek continues improvement to a marketing system that it building itself into the next great innovation for brands and organisations of all kinds to take advantage of.

I look forward to listening, and seeing, and observing. and trying and testing………and writing!

John Deere: Content marketing since the 1890’s!

FeaturedJohn Deere: Content marketing since the 1890’s!

Content Marketing has loads of people in a confused state. Haven’t we aways been using content to market to people? Why suddenly are we hailing the phrase content marketing like it is the answer to everything?

To illustrate this point have a look at John Deere and its 100+yr old publication called ‘The Furrow’ which was launched in 1898 and still continues today with an active and loyal readership. Back then John Deere got a basic truth – (1st) aim to be useful and helpful to your consumers without waxing on and on about your brand and your products; if your advise and help is valued and relevant to consumers / industry / need etc then your brand and your products will be too. You will become a trusted advisor in your sector / field or realm of endeavour!

The other element of the equation which hasn’t changed much is that you have to have something worth selling that specific people will want and continue wanting. Nothing new there.

then there is story telling.

Not much changed there.

Or has it?

In fact it has changed greatly and i’ll cut to the chase; Story telling in this modern world means audience or social participation in guiding the story to its conclusion.

Which conclusion is that you may ask?

Well that is what everyone is asking right now. Deloitte stated that among the highest corporate risk factors governing the business landscape right now is the emergence of social media – the free and unedited voice of the people! Simply put corporates are [email protected] off when it comes to knowing how to engage with and listen to a conscious and present audience that will not hesitate to slam you if you mess them around.

With the rise of social engagement brands are having to learn a whole new art / science that is counter intuitive to the ways of the past. It is called listening not telling. Now instead of self indulged advertising, that doesn’t hold any relevance to the actual business issue of the consumer, it is all about listening to, responding to and delivering on your consumers needs. And doing all this as part of a great story that connects people together in creating a shared and symbiotic community in which your consumers feel safe and comfortable to engage, to pay attention to great content and experiences, and in the end buy your stuff too. the basic idea is one of ‘if you hang around long enough in a barber shop you gonna get a hair cut’!

Just make sure your brand makes it a barber shop worth hanging out in.

Story telling remains crucial in creating compelling experiences within a brands content strategy that guide all consumer engagements across all platforms with a narrative purpose; one that allows for congruence between the brand and the consumer on social grounds or higher purpose grounds like education or CSI. The greater the mutual understanding between brand and consumer the greater the potential for transacting on open terms and with clear needs to fulfil. Now more than ever story telling is being hailed as the future because in the end we will choose our world based on stories that resonate with our own. The stronger the resonance the stronger the trust and loyalty. Telling these stories today has become a much more involved and technologically enhanced experience, one that is revolutionising the concept of being part of the story in every facet of our lives. The technological innovations that made UBER possible, and that enabled web based gaming tournaments, and Aladdin, have all played a part in changing the game forever! It is good to know though that despite all the noise the true essence and transformational possibility of story remains unchanged in our lives.

So what does this 116 yr old content marketing example tell us about content marketing then? Well for starters it tells us that content marketing is about delivering content based experiences that are focussed around the most prominent interests and needs of the consumer. You will also see that John Deere has not produced self-focussed brand ego material in order to try to bombard consumers with forced brand messaging and flimsy value statements that are designed to try to steamroll consumers into direct engagement with the brand. This is about pull and not push! So if these are core insights from over 100 years ago then why all the fuss about content marketing now?

Well it is like this: the technological innovations of the recent 5 years have seen a complete breakthrough in how we connect and transact with each other. Third party networks are no longer the only way to communicate with consumers because the internet and the range of related devices make it possible for direct communication. With this change has come the realisation that the online experience can now provide a much wider range of compelling experiences for consumers; most of which are driven by story, content & technology and all of which should be directly integrated with other non internet media or experiential activities. The term content has become much broader in definition: Content refers to anything that ‘contains within its structure and creation’ the potential for meaningful engagement – a live event is content. Pictures are content. Design is content. Video. copy. you name it. Its content. If you can package it and use it to communicate then it is content.

I think the biggest realisation about Content is that it actually has to be compelling in order to have an effect. And today compelling content is about consumers and their interests, it is about social awareness and about achieving spectacular experiences that build loyalty! Compelling content is also about being useful in providing helpful and conscious thought to challenges your consumers are facing every day so that your consumers walk with your brand willingly.

The marketing piece of the phrase content marketing has also changed tremendously. The modern marketer or communications role is changing very quickly. this is all technology led. With a whole new world opening up to the possibilities of analytics and measurement marketers now need to have a far more technology savvy approach to understanding how to measure useful criteria that can allow for better sales, better retention & heightened customer loyalty. You can’t improve on these things if you are not able to track the DATA that matters. I am not talking about shares & likes by the way. I am talking about consumer optimisation and A/B testing and things like that. Many of these measures are not actually conscious to the consumer, they are more digital impressions that provide insightful information on consumer behaviours; obviously the most useful measurement is achieved by electing feedback and dialogue with consumers in focussed discussions that are able to gradually migrate consumers through a series of stages until they are finally engaging directly with your brand and its offering. The sell. So marketing has radically changed into a much more scientific process which now requires a range of new skills and technology in order to achieve results. Now it is possible to show a direct link between marketing spend and ROI. And here i am not talking about reputation or PR but rather hard sales or leads figures. The point is that we now have technology at our finger tips that has eliminated many old and ineffective ways of measuring the value of marketing and communication related campaigns.

So a lot has changed since John Deere launched its publication called ‘The Furrow’ in 1898 in both content and marketing.It is a different playing field with new rules and methods. The question is whether your organisation is willing to unlearn old ways and commit to learning and applying new ones?

Content Marketing: Are we looking for Superman?

FeaturedContent Marketing: Are we looking for Superman?

All things considered the evangelists of content marketing promise a lot when it comes to what can be achieved through a powerful content marketing strategy.

Below are two examples which are well know but also very clearly successful. The two brands are:


Redbull has always stood out as a brand that has always understood the immense power behind great and unique consumer experiences. This brand understands its core audience to the tee and it continually delivers amazing experiences to its consumers across a wide variety of on and offline platforms and channels. Have a look at this example of their website.



The Lego company has long understood the multifaceted nature of content marketing. The brands recent enormous success with the ‘Lego Movie’, which achieved a staggering profit of $500m. The impact of the movie on the global Lego sales figures pushed all sales up by 15% overall over the following financial year. Epic success. Go and have a look at their site.


Then there are a whole range of other examples of content marketing yielding great results. these examples are not always driven by entertainment brands like Lego & Redbull. Financial services brands like American Express are considered to be among the most effective and applauded content marketing brands. Over a long time this brand has established itself as a powerful publisher with a clear focus on the travel experience of its clientele. have a look at this article describing their success formula.


These examples are so compelling that it really does suggest that content marketing done well and with purpose is worth its every cent of its significant investment. Lets not kid ourselves. To get a content marketing engine going from scratch costs big! This cost is often associated with a wider range of organisational changes that need to happen in order for your brand to align itself with modern practice requirements. a simple example of this would be conducting a technology audit / content audit to assess capacity.

Even though there are all of these success stories out there across the web there is another less attractive side to this ‘solution to everything’ called ‘content marketing’. This element is probably downplayed by many from agencies and corporates alike, and it is this –

content marketing is an extremely complicated process to evolve into and even when you are well into the delivery phase of content marketing expect to be constantly challenged to try to find ways to tie revenue in with marketing content out!

Then underlying all of the explicit content marketing related ROI you have a very clear list of other pre-causal factors that can send you spiralling into no mans land. Especially where new methods are concerned, and especially in less developed and fractured societies in which socioeconomic or politic challenges have limited to the enablement of technology and digital innovation. The key ones to look out for are:

Organisational maturity & culture

Is your organisational culture able to and willing to deliver against the promise to the customer?


Do you have leaders who understand the modern world and who have the vision to explore the future with courage and determination?

technological maturity

Does your organisation possess the technological capacity and legacy or vision to fulfil the necessary development & software implementation requirements to drive results?

Customer service

 Is this a department or an attitude? If it is the latter you will be fine.

Product usefulness 

Does your product matter to people? What need does your problem fulfil in the world?

Consumer education

How are you helping your consumers to know more about making decisions? How are you authentically empowering your consumers to improve their lives?

Ethics & trusted principles in  customers & representing the true interests of consumers  

If you don’t have a high moral & ethical standpoint then you will be inauthentic and your consumers will leave you out in the cold.


Is the promise of content marketing simply beyond the reach of most organisations? Or is the actual promise itself highly misleading and intangible?

Or does the practical application of the science and art of content marketing return predictable results that can be learnt from and applied repeatedly to achieve predictive and reliable results in the future?

Can we start to invest big time in reliable DATA sets which we can then begin to trust in implicitly when apportioning marketing budgets, towards tried and tested analytics which go well beyond the AVE or the media stats of traditional style broadcasters?

How much do we even know about the application of the DATA that we currently have at our disposal?

There are good answers out there to many of my questions. If i don’t have it you can be sure someone does. Despite the ready availability of answers and resources to many of our questions there are still some that are causing significant concern.

The proving of ROI remains at the top of the list when it comes to marketers concerns across the USA and Europe. Attributing value and successfully tying ROI to the marketing mix is complicated at best and only about 8% of marketers across the USA believe that they can successfully achieve direct attribution and thereby satisfactory ROI.

Does this mean that the rest of us aren’t clever enough or does it mean that content marketing is an unrealistic endeavour for many organisations to even consider.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that only the companies that have a high of level  maturity and social consciousness will succeed in content marketing. The rest will never make it because fundamentally they are not driven by the correct values, culture and behaviours.

Content marketing requires many other elements of an organisation to be working well before content marketing will serve any purpose except to tarnish your reputation.

How content marketing healthy is your organisation?

Are we looking for Superman?

Does your content really matter?

I often watch content and I ask myself a simple question:

“Why, and to whom, does this content matter?”

Often I think that the only people the content matters to, is the brand that made it, and to the agency that made it for the brand.

This is how blinkered so many brands and agencies are when it comes to making content that matters to people. Often this content is conceived without answering the most important question, which is ‘why, and for whom, are we making this?’. In the absence of a clear answer to this question, many brands are simply making content because it is part of a marketing requirement like ‘create awareness’ or ‘advertise the brand’.

These are both ‘why’s’ I suppose, but they are not the ‘why’s’ we need to be answering. It is obvious that a brand needs to create ‘awareness’ and to ‘advertise’ through content, but what is often less clear is ‘why’ do they need to do this, and for whom?

Is it because the brand needs to create ‘awareness’ about understanding the consumer better? Or perhaps the brand needs to advertise the specific benefits of its services to a specific consumer pain point?

By asking the question ‘why, and to whom, does this content matter?” we get closer to creating content that serves a specific target audience for a clearly defined reason.

There is far too much content out there that speaks to no-one about anything in particular.

Ask yourself “why, and to whom, does this content matter” before you start making it off pattern.

Make Content Magic with Deliberate Imitation and a Simple Kitchen Timer — Copyblogger

Your target audience isn’t interested in reading 5,000 articles from you. They’ll read one and decide whether or not to stick around. If the article’s message resonates with them, they might read a second, maybe a third. And then they’ll naturally subscribe to your email list or sign up for your membership site to stay…

via Make Content Magic with Deliberate Imitation and a Simple Kitchen Timer — Copyblogger

New rules of B2B content marketing — Smart Insights

3 rules to inform your content marketing strategy Many B2B companies are still adapting to the new opportunities of content marketing, and too many are still playing by the old rules. This involves with massively wordy, downloadable eBooks and content designed for the Desktop Era. Content marketing has changed along with the larger trends in…

via New rules of B2B content marketing — Smart Insights

Here’s How to Generate and Insert Rel Canonical with Google Tag Manager — The Moz Blog

Posted by luciamarinThis post was originally in YouMoz, and was promoted to the main blog because it provides great value and interest to our community. The author’s views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of Moz, Inc.In this article, we’re going to learn how to create the rel canonical…

via Here’s How to Generate and Insert Rel Canonical with Google Tag Manager — The Moz Blog

Building a modern marketing skills development program requires collaboration partners

I am designing a series of marketing workshops which take into account the major changes and innovations of the past decade in technology, data and content, and the impact these changes have had on marketing & communications, and on the engagement between brands and consumers in general.

It is my intention to design highly flexible and dynamic learning experiences for marketing & brand teams (and their agency partners); experiences which build the necessary levels of awareness, knowledge and skills required to navigate the uncertain and often confusing waters of modern marketing. Here are some of the identified skills GAPS from marketing teams across Europe. These stats come from www.smartinsights.com

These skills shortages are common to many parts of the world. These skills shortages clearly exist across many first world countries too, which suggests that in countries like South Africa, which are significantly behind the curve in many ways, that the need for these skills is critical! In fact the need for these skills are critical all over the world! The pace of change and innovation brought about by technology has created a marketing landscape which demands these skills to benefit from what digital marketing can offer your brand. Without these skills our marketing teams (and their agencies) will continue to deliver what they know rather than what is required in a modern digital context.

I have spent years researching and compiling the latest thinking on modern marketing, and it is through this process that I have become convinced by the potential of modern marketing to deliver powerful results for those brands willing to rethink marketing strategy along digital lines. This process is impossible without the correct awareness, knowledge and skills.

I have written a positioning article on the subject called Understand the changes in marketing (and how to take advantage), which provides an overview of the current marketing landscape. Based on this view I am creating a series of workshops through which to provide powerful skills development programs for marketing teams in need.

I realise that I am not an expert in many of the areas I need to cover, which is why I would like to put the word out there that I am looking for thinking partners to collaborate on the design and delivery of my series of workshops called “understanding, and responding to, the changes in marketing”

I do not want to be prescriptive at this stage. I would like to encourage anyone who resonates with this intent, and who would like to share in this vision, to contact me with your thoughts on this topic. Ideally I am looking for subject matter experts who would be interested in collaborating with me in creating these workshops.

I would also appreciate any insight, opinion or advise on my quest so please do speak your mind.

I look forward to hearing from you!


Technology, data and content have completely transformed the potential for marketing to become a core function associated with driving organisational growth and profitability. Unfortunately many marketing teams do not have the awareness, knowledge and skills with which to activate this new marketing ecosystem successfully.

As senior executives become more aware of the potential for marketing to play a more fundamental role in driving organisational intelligence and growth, so too does the pressure mount on CMO’s who are now tasked with driving better returns on dwindling marketing budgets, and often with a core team who do not have the required skills and competencies to do the work required.

How does your marketing team fare from a skills perspective? Are you ready to change?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic!

Our new research shows strong demand for Digital Skills — Smart Insights

Latest survey indicates digital is popular with marketers yet a skills gap is apparent For this research completed in August 2016 we got over 700 responses, showing the interest in skills development that we had hoped for. In the research, we were looking to establish a picture of the current level of skills within the industry and…

via Our new research shows strong demand for Digital Skills — Smart Insights