Tag Archives: research

Why Donald Trump Won The Election? Three Lessons for Marketers

Trump was not elected on a platform of decency, fairness, moderation, compromise, and the rule of law; he was elected, in the main, on a platform of resentment.
– David Remnick (New Yorker)

Yesterday was a shocking day.

trump
During the presidential race Donald Trump has showcased racism, hatred for women and downright lack of manners that should not be tolerable for leader of any organisation, not to mention the most powerful country of the world. I hope that some of the comments were just smart strategy (cynical adman in me) and there will be wiser Trump in the office.

Time will tell.

There have been lots of good articles of the reasons why Donald Trump won (both scientific and emotional), but there are three main reasons for the win that every marketer should take into account with their own marketing strategy:

1. Filter bubble

He (Trump) took advantage of a media landscape that has never been more broken, more fragmented and more open to misinformation, disinformation, and even outright hoaxes and lies.

– Matthew Ingram (Fortune)

I don´t have many Trump supporters in my Facebook friends. I don´t have lots of friends living in rural areas. My peer group is mostly comprised by knowledge workers, who have not gotten the short end of stick with globalization. Not to mention that I am Finn living in Singapore who does not really know anything about day-to-day life in USA. That is my digital world, but not the digital world for majority.

Not only in USA, the nations are divided. Is Super Bowl the last thing that brings all the people together in USA? And where digital has improved our life in many aspects, it has not brought us together. Media has lost its role as unifying force and you can nowadays ignore all the opinions that are against your worldview. Social media is not a conversation, it is a shouting match.

Never assume that your digital world is similar as your audience.

2. Top-of-mind is more important than positive sentiment

The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.

– Oscar Wilde

Many politicians and brands make the mistake of trying to please everyone. For majority, that is a huge mistake. Donald Trump is living proof of this. There were more people who were against him (Hillary got more votes) and he still won. The more people talk about you, the more you will gain followers. Sometimes angering 10 to gain 1 loyalist is worth it.

Find your audience. Only focus on that audience. Don´t try to please everyone.

3. Surveys are the most unreliable method of research

Hispanics won’t vote for Trump. Well, no, it turns out that Hispanics won’t tell pollsters – not even those automated telephone polls that they use in the States – that they will vote for Trump. Many of them just go out and quietly vote for Trump in larger numbers than they voted for Mitt Romney last time.

– John Rentoul (Independent)

If we would believe in surveys, everyone would be eating healthily, recycling and not voting for Trump. People lie in surveys. They want to portray certain image and are bad at self-reflecting. Words are cheap, behavior is the only thing that truly matters. Surveys and digital pre-testing are waste of money at their best and harmful at their worst. 

Don´t believe what people say. Follow how they move (location), how they spend their money (consumption patterns) and with whom they are in contact (social). 

The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.

-Winston Churchill

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Hip-Hop Innovation & About Being The First Magpie

“Good artists copy, great artists steal”
– Pablo Picasso

There was an interesting research lately about musical patterns in US pop charts from 1960 to 2010. One of the most headline-catching “findings” of the study was that the Beatles was not really that innovative, but was merely channeling existing patterns in charts. Contrary to hip-hop, of whom the researchers put to pedestal as the most important music revolution in charts.

“There’s three of us but we’re not the Beatles”
– Run DMC (King Of Rock)

Which sounds about right: the evolution of music has been a series of artists, intentionally and not, building on each other.

“Elvis was a hero to most
But he never meant sh*t to me you see
Straight up racist that sucker was
Simple and plain
Mother f*ck him and John Wayne”
– Chuck D (Fight The Power)

As a life-long hip-hop fan, it naturally tickles my fancy that the research highlights hiphop as one of the most revolutionary turning points in music charts. Hip-hop is the evolution of music. Through sampling you can turn every musical genre to a potential hip-hop song. Rapping enabled you to have much more message and words in one song as you are not confined by traditional song structure and need to have catchy chorus. You also do not necessarily need to be able to sing or play instrument to make hiphop (little bit similar as in punk). Hip-hop serves as the blueprint on how the innovation should work:

  • Use, alter, remix, combine existing material. Other man´s five-second-horn stab is other man´s full song.
  • Rethink the traditional form. Rapping is a closer to preaching than singing. With the abandonment of the traditional harmony and music conventions you free up more time to deliver your message
  • Democratize the tools. The more inclusive are the tools, the more opportunities there are for new interesting and surprising things to happen.

“Most decent popular music researchers would probably agree that the Beatles were not so much innovators as musical magpies – and that’s not a criticism. They, like all of us, listened to all sorts of stuff and were duly inspired”
– Mike Brocken, director of world´s first Beatles master degree (!)

There has not ever been such thing as a solitary inventor. Innovation is not about figuring stuff out in isolation. It is ability to combine existing things in new ways. It has never been about being the first. It is about being the first magpie.
Apple has not really been the first in anything, but they are the most innovative and also the most profitable company in the world.
Our obsession in coming up with something new is a quest doomed to fail. We should concentrate to listen to all sorts of stuff, be inspired and combine that existing stuff in new ways.

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Rethink Your Marketing Research

Majority of brands are doing research wrong. They spend all their efforts with focus groups, where “target audience” is overanalyzing ad storyboards in conditions that could not be more removed from the reality where those ads really are seen. In addition to focus, there is also qualitative research where the same “target audience” lies to their heart´s content about how they care about sustainability, ethicality but in reality only care about the price.

Don´t get me wrong. Right research is essential to successful marketing. Majority of brands would benefit with constant testing and research in the marketplace. You should be able to change advertising assets based on their actual performance in the media. Yes, it requires a little bit more production budget but will result in better success rate. Although there has been quite a lot talk about optimization, it is still surprising that how few brands and brand managers do the effort to measure, optimize and improve. It is just so much more convenient to blow up the money on useless focus groups.

Research is a powerful tool if we approach it differently. Where boring background research is generally reserved to the beginning of the project and happily forgotten by the time there is the creative development is on its full swing, you could actually make research integral part of your advertising. No need to be too scientific or cerebral about it:

Research is essentially just finding things out.

How you find things out is not limited to traditional methods. With digital tools we have more agile ways to do research and figure things up. Don´t let the bad image of current market research stop you. Be more of a mad scientist, less a census data collector and get your hands dirty with the research. On the right hands research can be a powerful creative tool and not just requisite tick in the box.

Great example about this is Shave Test by Gillette. Gillette could have done the usual boring qualitative study and ask women how they feel about beard. When asking someone for an opinion, you always give her opportunity to lie. Therefore observation is always better than asking. Therefore women might have been tempted to say that they love beards, because all the hipsters around sporting their beardos clouded their judgment. Regardless of the truthfulness of the answer, the guys could not have cared less. It would just have been another boring research piece that brands do all the time and no one really notices.

So instead of opting for boring, Gillette collaborated with Tinder for the rogue research. Right swipe in Tinder has become a unified standard for sex appeal. So Gillette and Tinder tested, which get more right swipes: bearded or well-groomed guys. The results were probably not that surprising to women, maybe a little bit to all bearded hipsters out there. You can watch highlights on the video below or get more detailed results in the campaign website:

How many times have come out with exciting creative from your focus groups?

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How Teens Abandoned Facebook and Other Lies You Can Find From Research

First of all, I recommend everyone to read “Wrong: Why Experts Keep Failing Us”, a brilliant book by David H. Freedman. It showcases that painstakingly big portion of scientific research is completely faulty. The book did not address the subject of marketing research, but as the situation was quite bad with scientific research, I would say that nearly all of the marketing research is somewhat inferior. That does not mean it is not useful, but you should always take it with grain of salt.

I was reminded of this when there were lots of shares in social media about research on how Facebook is not the most important social network for teens. The news coverage it got made me sad and angry because of three things. First of all, that study was conducted to 802 teens (there are 20+ million teens in US). Second, it was focus group, not assessing the real behavior online. Third, it was mainly a study about privacy, which might also skew the answers to certain direction (like the previous study about social media effect on teen purchasing patterns). If you look at cold facts, not feelings coming out from the focus groups, the truth is different:

Numbers trump feelings
The so-called popular network Twitter has 24% penetration in teen audience, while Facebook has 94%. That gives a clear signal about reality: Facebook is “only” over 3.5 times bigger than the “most-liked” social network. You rather have actual reach than likes. When you are crafting your next campaign for teens, I would still concentrate on Facebook to get that actual reach. Instagram (owned by Facebook, which is good to remember) or Twitter might be good for more engagement, but by the time of writing, something new is probably surpassing them as the social network of choice for teens.

Do not replace your common sense with research
Main takeaway from the research was that teens do not find Facebook cool anymore. That is hardly surprising and you do not really need research to get that insight. Why would teens even find it cool? Their parents are using Facebook, for god´s sake. There will be always a demand for that “new thing” amongst teens (whether SnapChat or twerking). That “new thing” enables teens to differentiate from adults and hopefully shock parents as well. When Twitter becomes popular enough, teens will “abandon” it as well. That “abandonment” does not mean that Twitter would be irrelevant. On the contrary, that might mean it is just big enough to make business sense for the target audience.

This rant is not really about the teens fleeing away from Facebook (which they actually do, to some extent). It is about that I am totally sick and tired of sloppily executed research and lazy misinterpretation of that research. You run into these bullshit stats taken out of their context everyday, whether you are reading blogs, industry press or just browsing the latest deck from the research agency. When these stats get passed on in social media without any deeper thought, I sincerely hope that people are just too lazy to check details of the research. Other alternative is that marketing people are just too stupid. Hopefully not.

Especially we, as planners, should take a stand and always dig deeper to the research and be the devil´s advocate when it comes to research. Find the occasional nuggets and gems between the lines and rip the other pieces of the research apart.

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Do You Still Want to Hear About Social Media Trends 2013?

Although everyone and their mother has already given their point of view about current social media trends, here are couple of more predictions.

Good folks at Kurio (Finnish Digital Marketing Think Tank) asked me and 17 other Finnish “social media experts”(stated by the report, I prefer to just be “the planner guy with funny glasses”) about social media trends in 2013 and conducted interesting study about the results. They identified nine emerging trends in social media for the year 2013. The report is in Finnish, but the main trends can be read below. All the finnish-speakers should definitely download the report below.

Big Social Media Themes for 2013  (my comments in italics):

1. 2013 is the year of Mobile (this has been my favourite prediction for at least five years. The main difference is that this year I am actually believing it)
2. Multichannel story-telling is the way to create modern phenomena (Or put it this way: If your marketing activity is not multi-channel/channel-agnostic/holistic/360/add your favourite buzzword by nature, it will be doomed to fail)
3. Lack of human resources is the main constraint in social media (The problem is two-folded, there is definitely lack of people actually working with social media. But there is actually even bigger talent problem: there are lots of “social media experts”, “community managers” but not enough actual strategic thinking about what we should do with and in social media. Social media without strategic thinking behind it is irrelevant at best and purely dangerous at worst.)
4. Big Data (Like the report also points out: we have lots of data & information, but do we have talent, resources and capabilities to turn that information to action?)
5. Content: Interesting, current and value-adding (Which starts the discussion about what is the good content? I still believe that good content is either 1)useful 2)funny 3)on some rare instances both)
6. Picture tells more than 2013 words (Despite the revolt against Instagram, people will rather share more pictures online than less in 2013)
7. Social cannot be just a digital or marketing function, but should be thought holistically (Definitely true, but also the most difficult to achieve. On some instances to make the change requires totally new management, who understands the possibilities of digital and social media. On other instances it requires adequate mix of sticks and carrots to ensure the competitive advantage in digital age)
8. Social media channels are starting to resemble more bought media (The pressure to monetize is already showing with different social networks, especially with Facebook)
9. Users are more and more critical towards marketing activities in social media (You might fool a customer once, but not twice. The opportunity to fool once has already passed)

Download the report (in Finnish).

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