Monthly Archives: December 2013

How to Disrupt the Marketplace like Beyonce

“I didn’t want to release my music the way I’ve done it. I am bored with that. I feel like I am able to speak directly to my fans. There’s so much that gets between the music, the artist and the fans. I felt like I didn’t want anybody to give the message when my record is coming out. I just want this to come out when it’s ready and from me to my fans.”
-Beyonce Knowles

Sometimes the best marketing is just let the product speak for itself. Just as the speculation for the albums of the year seemed to slow down, Beyonce dropped a bombshell. In this era of leaking albums way ahead their release dates, Beyonce actually was able to release her record “in a secret”. Last Friday morning without  advance single, marketing campaign, radio airplay or TV performances. That naturally was not a secret for long as every media jumped to cover that. What is also notable that the album is currently sold only as an album exclusively in iTunes. What can we learn from this approach?

1.    Reward your fans first
As the average life cycle of hit song is only weeks at best, who actually buys albums anymore? Who remembers that Harlem Shake happened this year? Beyonce is one of the few artists who still have a fan base big enough to move considerable amount . Why you should not treat your most loyal customers well and give them something they hold in high value? The approach has been successful: the album sold 430k units on one day. The rest can cherry-pick their songs later (see point 3)

2.    Good content is the best marketing
When you are superstar and you really believe in your music, it is only natural to believe that every song in that album is a potential single. The most-sold and most solid pop album ever Thriller was quite close to it: having seven of the nine songs as singles. Beyonce has done video out of every song of her new album (17). Actually some radio stations are currently having all the songs in rotation. Don´t be misunderstood though, this is not cheap way to do it. Although you save a little in media spend, having Hype Williams to produce your video is still costing you quite a much.

3.    You do not really need to disrupt everything, just one thing
What is really brilliant with Beyonce-approach is that it is rare instance when you can have the cake and actually eat it too. Beyonce just skipped the pre-launch PR & advertising bits. The download is album-exclusive only for a week. Then it is back to the usual: streaming services start, there will be singles from the album and I bet that Beyonce will not decline interview requests.

4.    Finding the right partner is crucial
Beyonce partnered with iTunes to make this happen, her husband Jay-Z partnered with Samsung to make other hyped album launch of the year. From the bigger artist perspective, the music business is increasingly more B2B than B2C:

5.    Understand what business you are in
So what is music business nowadays? It is not about selling albums or even singles. It is about creating experiences. This is obvious when analyzing how much the biggest artists get from touring. Experiences are not limited to real-life, but are happening more in digital. Before you made music video to promote the song. Now you do song to be able to do the YouTube-video.

To pull something like this out and with this effect, you need to be an artist of Beyonce-calibre (there is not that many) and also you have to be first to do it. Free publicity of the stunt is something you cannot duplicate. So this approach per se is not the future of music business. What is the future, that the money does not come from only music, it comes from the whole package.

Although for this week, we can try to believe that music album still matters like in 1980´s. The album is actually quite good, but naturally not the Thriller.

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Social Media Trends 2014: The Truth According to Me

Good folks at Kurio Digital Marketing Think Thank asked me (again) and 21 other Finnish digital dudes & dudettes some views of social media trends in 2014.

In many ways the social media scene has matured and the shifts are not as radical as they were few years back. Many of my answers from last year would not be out of place this year (last year trends can be read here). As majority of the readers of my blog cannot read Finnish, I have translated my predictions below. If you can understand Finnish, the report is highly recommended read.

Before going to my answers, it is important to make the distinction between a fad, a trend and a commodity. Every new thing starts out as a fad (i.e. Snapchat is in that phase). Majority just stay as fads (Chatroulette), but certain things evolve to trends (i.e. brands building their Facebook pages few years back). Only very few make their route to become commodities (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube at the moment). Trends do not pay the bills, so usually only when something is commoditized it starts to make safe business sense. In that way you should approach your social media marketing efforts like investor:

70% of investments to commodities (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube)
25% to trends (Taking selfies)
5% to fads (Snapchat, Vine)

This is naturally subject to your risk tolerance and your business majority. If you are start-up with nothing to lose, it might sense to flip it other around. And do not get me wrong, my view is that brands should try to ride the trends and fads more proactively. It is just important to realize their business role (such as learning, gaining the opinion leadership, creating the future competitive advantage). Riding on the fads seldom is the way to reach masses.

So with that caveat my social media trends (with couple of commodities and fads thrown in as well):

 1.Biggest Social Media Trends in 2014: Monetization & Mobile-First
There is two big paradigm shifts which are not really trends, but changes which have already happened but keep
a) Money (Show it)
Twitter did the IPO this year, which will affect the user experience. I doubt that the success will not be as good as with Facebook. Mass social media channels are increasingly more bought media than earned media. Therefore community manager or social media director without also access to bought media budget is a position without any real power. In many ways the advancements in bought media (i.e. programmatic buying) have also been way more interesting in recent years than say in, content marketing.
b) Mobile (First)
The switch to mobile is not a trend, it is a change which has already happened.  Consumers  switch wildly between different channels, platforms, devices and even use them at the same time! This puts extra pressure to understanding the consumer journeys. You cannot really understand those journeys without constant testing, measuring and optimizing. Secret to crack the mobile-first challenge is to think holistically consumer-first.

 2. Social Media platform to look out for in 2014: Anything related to visual storytelling
I have talked about selfies before in this blog and they will not go anywhere next year (hopefully twerking will not disappear either). All the applications, which help you to modify and enhance will be hot items next year. China will show the way in this trend. Also, we have to also remember that selfie is a communication vehicle as itself. Combining IM and visual storytelling will be a big thing. Instagram has actually addressed this already with its Direct offering.

3. Biggest challenges in doing social media marketing in 2014: Processes block the real-time success 
Old processes stand in the way of the really great real-time executions. Year 2013 was disappointment in terms of real-time marketing. There were couple of nice stunts, but we should be able to do better than just dunk in the dark (Oreo is still pretty much the only proper case study example). The briefing process that is suitable for traditional big brand campaign just does not fit faster requirements of real-time marketing. My personal New Year promise is to concentrate even more in creating and executing more streamlined, collaborative and more agile way to make real-time success stories next year.

4. Social Media Buzzword, which hopefully disappears in 2014: The whole talk of the social media
If you are still in 2014 talking about social media as a separate unit, you are more old-school than the person still using FourSquare. Consumers switch smoothly between devices and platforms and between virtual and real-life like it ain´t no big thing. What is actually the difference between digital and real-life nowadays? How can your firm address the needs and the behaviors of these consumers in every relevant touchpoints? To separate social media from other digital activities or other activities is just laziness and shutting your eyes of the reality. Digital scene is more fragmented than every before. Therefore it is more crucial than ever to create a big picture of those fragments. We do not need any more social media specialists (or digital specialists for that matter). We need 100% digital people who live and breath like their consumers and have the understanding and empathy to connect with them (and also means to be in the right touchpoints).

 5. Biggest social media hope for the next year?
I do not hope, I just do. And measure, optimize and do it again.

Predicting the future is too much work, I rather create history.

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Anatomy of An Insight: Burger King Anti-Pre-Roll

Accidentally I stumbled upon two Burger King campaigns this week which were on totally opposite side of the spectrum. Whopper Sellout was a disaster, but this pre-roll campaign is great:

Insight: People hate pre-roll videos. Ironically, you probably have to watch one to see the case study above. There is nothing more annoying than seeing boring ads, when you just want to see Japanese diarrhea dance. I pretty much always skip the pre-roll, expect if it really captures my attention immediately. Kobe & Messi Selfie Shootout was probably one of the latest pre-rolls I watched from beginning to end. But what if you tailor your pre-roll message to the content your audience is going to watch?

Really simple and effective idea also tied to promotional message. It would be interesting to see some stats from the campaign as well and to compare the finishing rates to regular Burger King promotional pre-roll.  My hunch is that this execution did quite well. This is also a great example that nowadays you really cannot separate creative and channel planning. They go hand in hand.

 Content is king, but context is king kong. 

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Whopper Sellout: Facebook Like is Not A Sign of Loyalty

One of the most idiotic campaigns lately has been this effort from Burger King Norway:

Effectively they subsidized their biggest competitor with 50 000 krones and lost 30k of their Facebook audience at the same time. But hey, now they have more engaged Facebook community with only those who care, right? Or they have 8000 fans who have already opted out of Facebook messages and have not seen the status updates about campaign.

Why this campaign was just really idiotic stunt?

1.Fast food is not loyalty business.
Majority of the people eat both in Burger King and McDonald´s. When you are hungry your main selection criteria is location, location & location. 72% of Pepsi drinkers drink Coke as well. Also if you offer free gift coupon for your main competitor and the only downside is that you cannot join a brand Facebook page anymore. Who would not get this deal? We are not talking about your favorite basketball team here. We are talking about burgers. How often you go to social media to really engage with burger? If your brand page disappeared today, who would mourn it?

2. Fast food is a mass business.
Even your most loyal 8k fans do not really make dent in your results. Therefore I rather had 40k disloyal bargain hunters than 8k hardcore Burger King loyalists. Sometimes Facebook is just reach and not engagement. The situation would be different if your average buy would be hundreds of dollars. Buying the fast food is low-interest buy. In reality you want the people fast in-fast out and not really expect them to discuss about your brand further.

3.Fast food business is led by promotions.
People wait for the new burger variants, one-dollar discounts and 2-in-1 deals. Why not give what they are wanting for? Majority of the brands should just realize that their Facebook page is only place for promotions, sweepstakes and occasional social media meltdowns. People go to Facebook because they want to connect with their friends. They do not want to connect with brands. They might do it occasionally, if they really want to or if they are bribed properly. Most likely they are too busy uploading selfies than answering your boring brand poll.

Liking in Facebook is quite seldom an act of loyalty. Quite often your most loyal fans do not even know that you have Facebook. It is totally delusional to argue otherwise.  And do not get me wrong, I do not think that there is necessary any value to Facebook like and there has been brilliant campaigns playing around the mindless like-chase. I have to also admit that “Whopper Sacrifice” is still one of the most brilliant FB campaigns ever. They were probably trying to come up with something like that in Norway, but failed miserably.

Much more effective campaign would be to offer people to switch their whopper to Big Mac in Burger King. Then I think more people would show loyalty and you would have gotten nice case study video material. Or do a campaign where you can only like either McDonald´s or Burger King in Facebook, and reward those who select Burger King as their solely FB Burger fan page with free Whopper. With Whopper Sellout the mechanics were just wrong and therefore it failed (and nicely done case study video does not change that fact).

Only good part of the campaign has been the publicity it has garnered (like this long piece on Fast Company). Calculated through that, it might have been worthwhile to lose those 30k fans. They also seem to have gained 2000 new ones after this latest stunt, so maybe it was just really twisted PR stunt and I fell victim to it as well.

Otherwise this just looks like award case study scam gone terribly wrong.

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Cut The Bullsh*t: What Cutting Your Hair in Subway Station Can Teach You on Innovation?

Besides my grocery shopping habits I have changed my haircutting habits as well. Before I used to spend quite a lot time and money to fancy barbers, but as the time is tighter in fast-paced Singapore, I have found my new favorite business venture QB House. They are fast barbershop located in MRT stations and offering just cut really fast and really cheap.
 
Today while taking my haircut, I started to think what all the other categories could learn from their approach:
 
1. Concentrate on essentials
Especially for the guys you seldom need washing the hair or coloring services. You just need the quick cut. Many times the route for drastic category reinvention is to start taking things away. Crossfit is great example of this in sports category (having higher margins though as well). Think about budget airlines. Do we really need airline food? For many of us, the answer is resounding no.
 
2. Make it faster in slow category
I used to spend altogether almost two hours to my visit in Barbershop. Reserving it was a pain in the ass and it took weeks of time. Now I just pop to QB House on my lunch break and does not even think about it. What if you could get your glasses in a hour? Or your car in one day?
 
3. Give bold promise
“10 minutes just cut” is the tagline for QB House.  I have actually timed the experience in QB House and many times it goes a little bit over it. I don´t really care about that. The bold promise gives indication that it is fast and something you can do within time restraints of your lunch hour or when you are waiting for subway. What bold promise you could give in your category? We give you credit card in an hour? We give you a loan in an hour?
 
4. Be cheap
Until last year the QB House promise was even more compelling from price-perspective: 10 minutes and 10 Singaporean dollars. Now the inflation has taken its toll, but price is still reasonable: 12 Singaporean dollars (7 €/9.5$). Price is totally connected with cutting all the unnecessary bits away. What is the core of your business and what are just the add-ons?
 
5. Be consistent
Instead of being loyal to specific barber or even specific location. QB House is located in MRT stations and strategic mall locations, which means that I can actually visit barber no matter where I have to go. The process is so fast that I can accidentally pop by. Before having the haircut defined my whole day routine. QB House is the McDonald´s of barbershops. You always know what to get. Again consistency and strict processes contribute to two things: effectiveness and familiarity. Effectiveness makes business sense for company and familiarity makes the consumer to come back. Although I never get the comb they offer me, it is still a nice gesture. And actually because the barbers cut so many people, the quality is actually really consistent as well. But to be honest I would not try to get new hairstyle from QB House. I don´t think they would want that either. Stick to the essentials and be consistent.
 
Actually I go more often to barbershop nowadays as well (every three weeks, might also be that I am rocking the undercut), so the new way of doing things has actually altered my behavior as well. The yearly customer value adds up though and I bring over 200 dollars for QB House yearly. You do not even think about it, because the single transaction is so low.
 
If your category has done things certain way for a long time, it is good indication that you could do it differently. How could you be faster, cheaper and more revolutionary on your category?

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Disturbing Retargeting Pt.2

Speaking of retargeting, this creepy ad popped in my screen today:
Creepy retargeting
No, I do not remember that one time I visited your weird site. And even if I would remember, I would surely want to forget that time. Why I would want to visit sites with bald guys with glasses with weird look on them? Was I drunk? Is there something else I should remember? Or try to forget?

I did not click the ad, although I googled the company. Apparently they are company offering retargeting services. Go figure. Probably visited their site when I was writing the post about retargeting last week.

They continued bombarding me with that scary dude later on:
perfectaudience2
No shit, Sherlock.

Catching the attention is one thing.
Catching relevant attention which converts to engagement is other.
The latter requires more finesse.

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Anatomy of An Insight: Kobe vs. Messi Selfie Shootout

Turkish Airlines taps into the selfie-phenomenon in their new ad:

Insight: Taking a selfie is about telling a story and capturing a moment. The bragging rights in holiday photos are huge. Travel photos constitute big portion of selfies, so it is great connection for airline to build on. It also continues nicely the rivalry theme from the previous ad featuring Kobe & Messi (over 100 million views). Compared to that one, the bridge to actual brand promise is actually tighter. The whole spot ends with the mention that Turkish Airlines flies to more countries than any other airline. Just brilliant.

This is a great example of utilizing celebrities in smart way and telling insightful brand story at the same time. Guaranteed to garner millions of views.

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#Selfie: New Way of Communication or The Tipping Point of Narcissism

I ran a marathon last Sunday (in time 3:58:55 if you want to know) and I noticed people taking photos of themselves with smartphones during the run. The act of taking selfies did not seem to cause accidents in Singapore like in Hong Kong, but selfie-taking is truly fascinating phenomenon and the selection as the “word of the year” by Oxford dictionary underlines the importance.

Last year I wrote how Pinterest is the tool for lazy & self-obsessed and cynically you could say that selfie is the tipping point of that laziness and narcissism. You do not even need to be interested about anything particular expect yourself. However, when looking more closely the selfie-picture is more revealing than your average duckface:

Visual storytelling: Selfie is about the process, not the end product
In your average marathon you have professional photographers almost in every turn. So taking a selfie is not about having a photo of yourself, it is about taking the photo as well. Selfie is about being the creator and the subject. How you take the selfie is almost as important as how you look. Do you take the photo from up or down, portrait or landscape and what is your pose? Do you squinch, smize or prune? I think where many analysis go wrong is that taking a selfie is a purely narcissistic endeavor. Many times selfies are not solely about how you look, but what is the message you really want to convey. What is the moment you want to capture? As the visual storytelling becomes more and more important, taking a selfie is same as sending SMS was to my generation. Like Frédéric della Faille (founder of Frontpage) concludes in New York Times article:

“The idea of the selfie is much more like your face is the caption and you’re trying to explain a moment or tell a story. It’s much more of a moment and a story than a photo. It is not about being beautiful.”

When people wondered why Facebook offered three billion for Snapchat, this is the main reason. Selfies are a new communication vehicle. Why Snapchat turned the offer down? Maybe they have clearer vision in the selfie crystal ball than us. Or they are just crazy.

Looking good: Expect the rise of selfie-enhancing tools in 2014
Although me, myself & I are not the only drivers for selfies, they are naturally the main ones. Teenagers taking selfies at funerals or exposing private parts in Snapchat are sad examples of selfies. Selfies strengthen the worrying trend of overtly focus on appearance even at younger age. You are bombarded everywhere with certain beauty ideal, how you will match it?

Well, if you do not have the right looks naturally you can always fake it.

Modification and enchanching the selfies are huge opportunities for innovation and quick monetization. China is leading the way on this one. Meitu Xiu Xiu (super simple photo editor) is already one of the most popular apps there, and Momentcam reached no.1 position in Appstore also beyond the China borders. If people are spending so much time taking photos of themselves, natural next step is that they will spend more time polishing them. That will enable them either to look good (Meitu) or tell their story or capture the current moment better (Momentcam).

The selfie-phenomenon will not disappear soon. More likely we see acceleration in the amount of selfies. What started from teenagers has already expanded to adults. According to Samsung study 30% of all pictures taken by 18-24 year olds are selfies. That is quite many gigabytes of duckfaces. Soon you will see your parents taking selfies. And you remember what happened when your parents joined Facebook?

When the trends get tired is the moment when they come commercially interesting.

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Nose-to-Tail Guide to Marketing

Recently there has been lots of buzz around restaurant called Wolf here in Singapore. They embrace “nose-to-tail”-ideology, which was coined by Fergus Henderson, whose restaurant St.John has been the culprit of the movement. Basically nose-to-tail eating means that you utilize all the parts of pig (or other animal).

I think it is an interesting phenomenon and there are certain lesson marketer can learn from nose-to-tail eating:

1. Sense the opportunity
Eating animal parts like tongue was common back in the day, because they were inexpensive. You utilized the whole hog, because you did not want waste good any edible parts. Nowadays the average restaurant visitor is so distanced from the body parts of animal, that there is opportunity now to charge high premium for previous b-grade product like bone marrow. Offal, bone marrow or even liver used to be common dishes but now they are exotic. On the other hand, average restaurant visitor is more adventurous cultural eater nowadays having been exposed to cuisines around the world. This provides great opportunity to reinvent some long lost meat dishes to paying audience.

2. Go back to the roots
Henderson did not need to reinvent wheel. Many of dishes are based on forgotten British recipes. Whereas other competitors were either looking for hypermodern approach (molecular gastronomy) or ethical cuisine for inspiration, Ferguson used the parts everyone else neglected. More often brands should really revisit what has made them unique instead of trying to revamp themselves every other year. Sometimes the answer to your problem is closer than you would believe.

3. Build the philosophy
When the money was tight, it made sense to utilize the whole animal. It strikes a chord well also with current discussion around ethicality of meat eating and always when financial crisis hits. Like Fergus Henderson concluded: 
“If you´re going to kill the animal it seems only polite to eat the whole thing”
It is not exactly going vegetarian or addressing the problems of meat production, but it is still step to the right direction.

4. Name it well
Nose-to-tail invokes curiosity and immediately tells what to expect. It is also quite open canvas to experiment as you can serve anything starting from nose ending to the tail. It does not exclude you to serve more “normal” items as well”

5. Make business sense
Making profit in restaurant business is actually about making more out of less costly ingredients instead of charging high premium of expensive items. Wagyu beef is expensive for the restaurant as well. So when done well, nose-to-tail is makes quite a much business sense as well. The premium you can charge for tongue is quite high.

 6. Deliver with passion
There are no shortcuts to excellence. Even with the five above points intact without the passion and craft for good food, Nose-to-tail eating would not be the phenomenon what it is now. In the current competitive landscape it is not enough that your product is superb, you have to tell a good story as well.

I have not yet tested Wolf, so the verdict is still out for its quality. Otherwise, I am firm believer of nose-to-tail eating.

Firstly it makes a good story and the most importantly it tastes good!

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