Stop! In the name of brand love.

There is a hint of panic and desperation in the online advertising air at the moment. Loads of brands seem to be focusing on their numbers in an attempt to hit their targets, their ROIs and secure their budgets for the next fiscal year. Be it Likes, sign ups, leads or conversions – if they don’t deliver on those numbers, they’re facing the financial axe. With this ultimatum on the brain, marketing teams are in buy mode, scrambling to run rash campaigns with an unbridled focus on acquisition. Big wins and free deals are flooding my newsfeed, my favourite sites and my inbox. And they’re boring me to death. Death by daily deals.

I’m not tarring all acquisition campaigns with the same brush. There are obviously some that are hugely successful in delivering conversions whilst at the same time providing a great customer experience. But I wouldn’t be surprised if these campaigns have a huge media budget behind them. They have enough spend to conquer and raise their flag across thousands of sites, beating the competition to a proverbial pulp. They also could be supporting their acquisition campaign with some really engaging content that creates value for the customer beyond the competition. But, even if they win at getting people to sign up in their droves, this doesn’t mean that the brand is going to ultimately achieve long-term success in reaping their financial returns. It’s time to recognise that in the end, brands will achieve greatest success by creating compelling content and real value for genuine customers, who aren’t there for short-term gratification. And they don’t even have to offer a $10,000 prize in the process.

So why doesn’t it work?

Your customers might not be real
When brands run promotions, they’re at risk of attracting customers who are literally in it, to win it. And that is all they are there to do. They don’t love you, they have no real intention of ever purchasing your product and are likely to leave as soon as the prize has been drawn. So your competition might have achieved its own targets, but in the bigger scheme of things you’re taking two steps forward and one step back.

You’ll be diluted by the promotion professionals
With so many deal sites launching every day on the coattails of big players like Groupon and Scoopon, you’re going to have to work very hard to get your competition message to cut through an inbox, a site or on Facebook. No matter how big your prize, a new phenomenon of inbox blindness is brewing. Leave daily wins to the professionals – their customers expect this of them.

You’re at risk of cheapening your brand
If your brand is of this ilk anyway (value, money off, coupons and savings etc…) then ignore this point. But for brands who are looking to reflect premium qualities, then deal-based campaigns are a sure way to cheapen you in the eyes of consumers. Sure, you can run competitions occasionally, but make sure they’re really unique and super cool.

Build your content, they will come.

When Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest launched, did you see them running bulk-buy banner campaigns across the web? Stalking potential users with emails, telling them to sign up for a chance to win a weekend away? No. What they did was create a product and a site that was simply awesome, and led to success levels of ridiculous proportions without any marketing drive. It was their customers who did their marketing for them. For free! And with that priceless stamp of peer-to-peer approval. Brands need to make sure that what they create, on their sites and their social media pages, is something that is cool, compelling and that will engage the type of audience they want to draw in. These are genuine friends and followers and they will share your product with other like-minded people online.

I’m not saying that brands shouldn’t run acquisition campaigns at all. I recognise that brands might need a boost at the beginning to get an initial base that they can communicate with. And maybe another boost from time to time. They might also need to increase their brand awareness in a short period. I also recognise that when a brand is trying to grow online, they need the credibility of a minimum number of friends or followers. I’m not sure I would Like a page with 1 other follower, it would make me a little dubious of its authenticity.

My argument is for brands to stop focusing solely on buying customers back to back. Get off the campaign spinning wheel and take time out to invest in your digital content. It will serve you for longer. Your online content has got to be up to scratch if you want to retain the customers you have bought (if they’re interested) and get them to share your offering. Invest in your digital content and you’ll achieve long-term brand growth, customer loyalty and returns on your online marketing investments.

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Two words for tomorrow

If you’re passionate about the future of Australia, or just about fascinating social experiments (for those of you elsewhere) then I highly recommend you take two minutes to check out this important and brilliant campaign by GE’s future-thinking arm, Imagination at Work.

It asks users to simply type in two words to describe the issues that are important to them and the future of the country. From clean beaches, to property prices I’m sure everyone has an opinion on what they think needs improvement. Social media campaigns like this make it SO much easier for ordinary people to get involved in the politics of their country and make real change. No more excuses!

And you don’t have to worry about your words getting lost in the digital ether, they’ll be lit up on major displays across Perth, Brisbane, and Sydney on the following dates:

Perth – Murray St Mall – Thursday 26th April / Friday 27th April
Brisbane – Reddacliff Place – Thursday 3rd May / Friday 4th May
Sydney – Martin Place – Sunday 27th May / Monday 28th May / Tuesday 29th May

My two words were HOME BUYING. But that’s just because I’m super upset about the idea of not being able to afford in the Eastern Suburbs and by the beach! Do something Julia! A little selfish maybe…but I’m pretty sure loads of people feel passionately about this too.

Head to the site, or check it out on Facebook. This is important people! Two words = BIG change.

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Eight ways to boost your search through social

These eight tips on boosting your search engine rankings through social media are brilliantly insightful, simple to digest and timely, with the roll out of Google Social Search.

For those that aren’t familiar with Google’s controversial new approach, it basically gives smaller businesses a shortcut to the top of the rankings, provided that they have earned it through social recommendations…on Google+.

Like most people, I dipped my toe in Google+ waters for a week, thought it was rubbish and then tried to pretend it wasn’t there. But rather than going away, it’s just getting louder and more insistent.

So, it’s time to start brushing up on your Google+ skills, learning a new social language and reaching out to people on yet another platform. It sounds like a pain, but these tips will help you stay positive. If you’re a small business, this is a great opportunity and offers a window in which you can go head to head with the big brands and compete on the same playing field.

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TV will grow your brand, not Facebook

You don’t see that kind of headline very often. A leading Marketing academic sees Facebook from a different angle and makes a semi-convincing argument.

Professor Byron Sharp claims that your most valuable audience is not made up of your frequent users, like your Facebook fans and your Twitter followers. They’ve already bought into your brand and focusing on them is like preaching to the choir.

He suggests that the most valuable audience is made up of consumers that have not been convinced to buy into your product offering. They’re not tweeting or hashtagging about you. They’re the ‘light users’ who need to be persuaded if you want your brand to grow. Advertisers should reach them though TV and be prepared to pay more.

I see his point to some extent. But I think this approach devalues a brand’s existing user base, cheapens online marketing efforts and fails to take into account the enormous power of brand advocacy.

Ignore fans and die
What about brand loyalty? Pay no attention to your lovers, they’ll forget about you and you’ll lose them, fast. I’m pretty sure that’s the opposite of how to grow a brand.

Peer-to-peer pressure
Your friends see you interacting with a brand online, and they want in. Hey, your brand just grew a little bit. Bit tricky to do this with TV. It’s a one (sided) trick pony talking at you.

Warning! Fan thieves operate in this area.
If you don’t show your followers a little lovin’, someone else will. A competitor’s shiny new dangling carrot could suddenly seem far more attractive than the pocket of dusty air you’ve been offering recently. And…suddenly you’re brand is down.

I agree with Byron that the way to grow a brand is to expose new people to it and convince them to convert. But I don’t this is a sound rationale for giving TV a bigger slice of the advertising budget. I think digital has an important role too.

And, retention is vital for brand growth. Equal attention must be paid to rewarding those who have already bought into your brand and reminding them why they did so in the first place. Otherwise, your loyal users will disengage and defect and before you know it, you’ll have to work even harder to claw your way back to your targets.

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The Art of Pho

The Art of Pho is a surreal graphic novel by British illustrator and animator, Julian Hanshaw. It follows the life of Little Blue as he learns how to master the national art of making Pho in Ho Chi Minh. It’s been beautifully adapted for the web by Submarine Channel. Watch all episodes here

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Seven ways to save your social media data

Real-time reporting is key, but old data is important too. Don’t let your past social media activity disappear into the online abyss with these helpful tips

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Improve your CTR

A pleasure-to-scroll-through infographic about email marketing best practice, from Litmus. Some desk decoration fodder with a purpose.

Source: Litmus blog

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Visual CVs

A friend recently shared some amazing visual CVs from pinterest. I love words, but never recommend online content is too copy-heavy. Audiences are easily distracted by the bright and shiny, and visuals can speak louder than words. Inspired by these graphics, I created my own.

Helenavdougsll bisual Cv

It definitely has more of an impact than the average one-pager. Visual based content and games are gaining popularity fast, with pinterest leading the pack. And check out Draw Something which just sold for a massive sum. If this trend continues and spills into the professional arena, employers can start looking forward to CVs with more of a bang popping in their inboxes – thank GOD.

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