Mobile app marketing campaigns: The practical stuff

While planning, distribution, legal issues and ongoing maintenance and support aren’t what marketing professionals first think about when considering marketing campaign apps, it’s usually these unfamiliar issues that trips projects up, causing them to fail or go over time and budget. In this final part of a three part series, Paul Lin goes through some loose ends and questions around running a mobile app marketing campaign.  

Time

The first practical thing to consider when planning your mobile app marketing campaign is planning – how much time do you have?  While apps can vary in size and complexity, a good measure is that apps are built in months, not weeks – so you’ll need to budget in a few months from conception to release. Furthermore, you’ll need to budget in at least a few weeks to a month around scoping, to ensure that the idea is functional both as a product and technically.

Too often we find that it’s this first step that trips non-mobile specialists up, as they come up with a great concept only to find that it’s not technically viable or practical for the timeframe or budget they have assigned to the project – but by then it’s too late, as there’s not enough time to re-scope the project, and a hacked-up compromised concept is implemented in its place instead.

These projects usually fail as the original strategic vision is not followed through in the compromised version. Therefore, we would almost say that the initial planning and scoping is the most important phase of the project, and around 80% of the success or failure of the project is determined at this step.

Platform

The next issue to consider is the platform – in general, we recommend native apps for both iOS and Android for marketing apps, as they require the smoothness and polish that only native apps can provide. It’s also been a long time since Apple has dominated the smartphone market, so in order to reach your target audience, you’ll need to plan for both platforms.

Design and implementation time and costs will vary from platform to platform, and phone to tablet, so it’s important to consider during the planning phase how much time and budget you have, and which devices are more important to your campaign. Depending on the nature and functionality of the app, designing for phone and tablet may incur only a trivial amount of time, or it may take up to double the amount of time – so it’s important to have this discussion with your mobile specialists up front.

 

Distribution

Distribution is also another task to consider when planning your mobile app marketing campaign. Unlike web products, apps need to be distributed by the app stores, so you can’t just ‘finish it and put it up for everyone to download’. Instead, you need to think of the process not unlike putting a physical product into a bricks-and-mortar store – you need the owner’s approval, and that approval process takes time and effort.

This distribution and approval process is something that most marketers neglect until the last minute – they assume that submitting apps is as simple as uploading a picture or post on Facebook, or a video on Youtube, when in reality the process is a complex negotiation process with Apple and Google, which takes time to set up, especially if the account in question hasn’t submitted any apps before. There are also a lot of settings and questions (business and technical) to answer, so it’s best it’s done by mobile specialists who have submitted apps before, and not by the marketers themselves.

Once the app is submitted, it can take up to two weeks or more for Apple to accept an app, although in reality it can take less time. However, given that Apple owns the app store, they have the right to reject apps as they see fit without reason – therefore, it’s not uncommon to receive requests back from Apple to modify the app in unexpected ways in order to comply with Apple’s policies at the time of submission.

To avoid rejection and delays to the campaign timelines, the app needs to be managed at every step to comply with Apple’s policies up front – this includes everything from design (using acceptable UI components) to development (using the code in the Apple approved ways).  In addition, the two-week submission buffer needs to be a hard deadline for the project, in order to reserve some time to mitigate the risk of a new policy or unexpected requests by Apple.

Google App store submission is a similar process, but it’s a lot less time consuming, and the process for approval is less strict. But the same care and planning needs to be taken for Android apps as well, as Android has its own unique technical/submission issues (such as file size limits).

Social integration

Outside of distribution requirements, there are also requirements around sharing and integrating social networks that non-mobile specialists may not be aware of, which may result in rejection not by Apple/Google, but rejection by Facebook or Twitter. For example, Facebook, in order to prevent spam-like posts from appearing on people’s walls, has strict verb-noun requirements for sharing descriptions. Without understanding the implications of sharing and how that may affect the core concept is also another trap that can affect the overall success of the mobile app campaign.

Maintenance

Finally, there are also ongoing support and maintenance issues to consider – very rarely will apps be a final product on initial release.   To achieve success, the app needs to be modified based on user feedback, and ongoing monitoring and updates are usually required.

A common mistake for marketers is to spend their entire budget on the initial version, and then not planning or budgeting time for updates post release, causing it to die slowly over time due to user dissatisfaction.  Instead, they should be thinking the app as an organic product, one that needs to be grown, trimmed and shaped over the course of the campaign, if it is to have any chance of achieving its original strategic objectives.

 

The wrap

In all, running a successful mobile app campaign is a complex process, but at the end of the day, it’s only complex because it’s new.  While marketers have gotten used to doing web-based campaigns (to the point that it’s intuitive and ‘easy’ now), it wasn’t that long ago that the same people had to switch from television and print-based advertising to web advertising.  Instead of avoiding a mobile-centric app campaigns because it’s unfamiliar, marketers should work with mobile specialists in learning the landscape and ecosystem, and take advantage of the unique technology, opportunities and results that it can bring, or risk being left behind in the mobile revolution that we’re currently going through.

 

Feature: The Era of the Buyer

In B2B marketing, as in B2C, a revolution has been brewing over the past few years as the power of the buyer grows. This power struggle has seen marketers begin to adapt from reaching out to buyers to luring them in. In 2013, the buyer revolution will come to a head, according to research conducted by Green Hat and ADMA, with the balance of power set to reside firmly in the buyer’s court.

Empowered by the ability to research, learn and compare online, buyers are increasingly resistant to push-based marketing approaches, triggering a shift from outbound- to inbound-dominated marketing. A hot topic in marketing circles over the past few years, inbound will break through the line this year, fuelling the use of social media, content marketing and PR as bait to attract buyers.

This in turn sparks another shift: the move from real-world contact to cyber interaction. For the first time the balance of spend in B2B looks set to tip to the side of digital marketing over traditional techniques.

Faced with this chain reaction of shifts, B2B marketers are stuck between realising the buyer is in control and adapting their tactics accordingly. A host of challenges prevent marketers from closing the gap between realisation and execution, as they grapple with problems old and new. However, Green Hat’s ‘B2B Marketing Outlook Australia 2013’, drawn from a survey of around 300 marketers, shows good news on the horizon.

Budget relief is on the way

The budget restrictions that have plagued the industry look set to relax this year (see Figure 1). Firms increasing their spend will outnumber those cutting back by three to one.

Marketing departments are also growing, says managing director at Green Hat, Andrew Haussegger. “The vast majority still have fewer than five team members, but we’re finding that a lot more companies are increasing the size of their teams to five and above… budget on salary is going up.”

While this elicits a sigh of relief in many, working with scarcity and deploying funds wisely will continue to be a necessity for marketers. David Redhill, chief marketing officer at Deloitte, believes budgets are being redirected and more closely managed in concert with other forms of business development. Spend intentions display a clear channeling of funds away from traditional demand generation, forecast to drop by eight% from a high of 36% two years ago, to digital marketing, which looks set to jump three% on last year.

Closing the gap on the buyer revolution

The era of the buyer is upon us, according to Chris Fell, managing director of inbound marketing specialists g2m Solutions. “A big sea change is occurring, underpinning a lot of the changes that are coming in marketing,” Fell says. “Marketers are struggling to figure out how to adapt to the new world that they’re faced with. There is a gap between realising the buyer is in control and changing the tactics and tools in the process.”

But the gap is starting to close. Marketers are realising they’re not the trusted source they once were. In such a climate, ideas are the new currency, says Redhill, noting buyers are increasingly looking past marketing to their industries’ opinion leaders. “When we talk about providers, we’re not talking about the sales and marketing people, because they don’t believe us – it’s the subject matter experts within our business.

Marketers plan to respond to this power shift by adopting inbound marketing in greater numbers than ever before. Last year, 42% said they spent more on outbound than inbound marketing, while only 22% spent more on inbound. This year, 35% will spend more on inbound, while only 31% will do the reverse, shifting the balance in favour of pull-based marketing tactics for the first time.

“Inbound marketing has broken through the line in the plans and intentions of marketers,” Haussegger says, pointing to a knock-on effect for social media, content marketing and public relations. One dollar in every seven will be spent on content marketing this year, Green Hat’s research reveals. Much of this will be deployed online.

The increased focus on inbound triggers another big shift for 2013: marketers channeling even great spend towards digital. The balance is expected to shift in digital’s favour for the first time by next year, if it hasn’t already. Anecdotally, the growth in spend planned for websites, online advertising, social media, SEO and SEM, as well as content marketing and lead management (see Figure 2), points to digital eclipsing traditional this year, Haussegger estimates.

“By next year, based on the trends we’ve seen over the last couple of years, we are certain more will be spent on digital… buyers are online and so the marketers are looking for them online.”

The number one digital tactic marketers will look to invest in during 2013 is websites; with 77% planning to increase spend on this asset. As technology improves, marketers are making websites an interactive place for people to visit, Fell notes. “Blogging, downloading stuff, testimonials, webinars, watching video – people are starting to use websites for places to go to interact with the organisation,” he says.

More B2B organisations are now creating and publishing social media content than aren’t, with incidence set to jump from 34% last year to 52% this year. “They’re either dipping their toe, ankle, knee or the rest of their body in social media,” Haussegger explains, “and the total inbound advocates are fully up to their necks.” Smaller, nimbler organisations are leading the way. “Some of the larger organisations are often more challenged around the rules dictating how they can actually apply their content in social media,” he adds. Only 17% are yet to have any involvement in social media.

 

Uncertainty over return appears to be holding the others back, Fell believes. “Some are, therefore, hesitant to jump in and commit large amounts of time and money to it.” Green Hat’s research supports Fell’s assertion, with only one in eight of the opinion that their investment to date has been worthwhile.

LinkedIn remains the most used – 82% tap its rich source of information on professionals – while 69% use Twitter (which Fell sees as an untapped force for lead generation), 66% are on Facebook, and others, including Google Plus, remain a blip on the radar. Content is being posted to YouTube by 54% and on industry blogs by 41%.

Being involved in LinkedIn is a no-brainer according to Kimon Lycos, founder of B2B agency Mihell and Lycos. “In terms of lead generation, in terms of sales performance, in terms of brand building, it’s unrivalled,” he says. There’s general agreement that marketers got their heads around LinkedIn in 2012, taking it beyond recruitment into lead generation and brand building territory.

On Facebook, opinions are mixed. Some believe it’s not a place for most B2B brands, while others think it’s a potential gold mine. Lycos sees it as the equivalent of looking at family pictures on a desk. “You’re able to get a snapshot of what their personal interests are, and then you can build rapport based on that. I think it’s also got great relevance with recruitment and demonstrating and displaying a company’s culture.”

Mobile

Coming in at number five on the priority list for digital tactics this year is mobile enablement, pointing to the market finally getting serious about mobile sites.

Lycos thinks there is a great niche for mobile catalogues and content marketing. “Conferences and events could make much better use of this technology to add more value to their events. I’d like to see stuff like match-making, so I could share the type of people I’m interested in meeting and be matched up with those people.”

Where does that leave ‘traditional’ marketing?

With buyers having migrated online, traditional techniques are failing, Haussegger believes. Once big-ticket marketing ploys are being cut back or, in some cases, stopped altogether.

Tradeshows and conferences, a mainstay of the B2B world, are also reducing in relevance according to Marketing’s sources, an assertion reflected in the data. There’s a belief bigger, longer events are no longer attracting top-level decision-makers, sparking a movement towards smaller, more personalised events.

B2B marketing is about effecting an introduction between a human salesperson a buyer, Fell says, pointing out events are still a strong tactic. Redhill sees events moving to those of greater value: “Seminars, report launches and private briefings are certainly eclipsing hospitality and feel-good event spend.”

Not all traditional disciplines are set to decline, however. Reflecting the shift to inbound, PR has stepped up to the top position for planned traditional marketing spend. Growth in PR is expected to come most strongly from SMBs.

Speed bumps and the road ahead 

Automation is the word on every marketer’s lips, with back-office procedures, such as integration with sales or CRM, proving the most troublesome over the past year. Rolled together, 60% of automation challenges selected by respondents reside in the back office, compared to 40% in front.

Automating lead nurturing and management was nominated as the most pressing challenge over the past year. The research found that one in every 12 dollars spent in 2013 will go to addressing this goal.

The age-old challenge of measuring ROI followed close behind, with the disconnect between marketing and sales one of the major factors clouding measurement. Marketers are unsure if sales follow up on around half of leads generated.

When it comes to using data to target buyers with relevance and context, it is still early days, Haussegger says, “But some marketers are on the road towards making one-to-one marketing a reality.”

“You need a lot of content to tailor to the different stages of the funnel,” Fell points out. “The journey takes a long time in B2B, and therefore you have to give them different tidbits at each stage, to accelerate them through the sales funnel, towards being qualified leads that you can then centre.” Interpreting and acting on the reams of data being collected is a further challenge, complicating the progress towards a one-to- one marketing model.

On the whole, however, Redhill thinks marketers are becoming increasingly sophisticated. “Better use of social media, better use of thought leadership and better use of data, they are all intertwined. I’ve seen increasing alignment of social media presence outside the business with brand objectives and use of data in the marketing formula, increasingly organically, so [there’s a] continuous feedback loop.”

With buyers now in control, marketers need to be more agile – ready to respond with what the buyer wants when they want it. “It used to be that business- to-business businesses are sort of like the aircraft carriers of the marketing world,” Redhill concludes. “It takes a long time to check and adjust, to get the market feedback, feed it into the sales model and adjust and change it.” In the era of the buyer, however, B2B marketing is quickly becoming a more agile craft.

Public broadcasters come out budget winners

The ABC and SBS are among the few winners to come out of last night’s federal budget. The ABC will pick up close to $100m in extra funding with $59.4m to go to news and current affairs and $30m for online content distribution over three years, while SBS has received an additional $30m over five years.

SBS managing director, Michael Ebeid says the budget announcement confirms the government’s recognition that SBS has a continuing and vital role to play in contributing to social cohesion, and to Australia’s success as a migrant nation.

“SBS is a lean and agile hybrid broadcaster which punches above its weight with distinctive and innovative content, despite operating on one fifth of the average budget of all the other broadcasters.”

“This funding will equip SBS to provide the services that are critical to its responsibility to be a broadcaster for all Australians, in a climate where commercial growth is subdued, content costs are increasing and audiences are fragmenting across the myriad channels, platforms and devices available to them,” he says.

ABC managing director Mark Scott has also welcomed the news saying, “This investment acknowledges two of the prime areas where the ABC is using its digital expertise to deliver on its Charter obligations to inform, educate and entertain Australians.”

“The funding will better equip the ABC to provide the mobile and online content that audiences are demanding in ever-increasing numbers. It will also allow our News Division to create new cross-platform content that showcases the best of the ABC’s journalism, including the work of our new specialist reporters, bureaux and regional resources.”

 

Don’t let mobile be an afterthought – 3 tips for getting into mobile marketing

We know that consumers prefer mobile experiences, but if you’re a marketer, there’s a good chance you’ve noticed a campaign on your phone or tablet that has not been designed for mobile. It seems many marketers are still considering mobile as an afterthought, despite the opportunities it presents, and will continue to present as mobile penetration explodes.

There are some great examples of companies using mobile to create fantastic campaigns and consumer experiences: Commonwealth Bank and its Kaching mobile app and net banking platform immediately spring to mind. But for many marketers, mobile is a lower priority than other aspects of the digital marketing mix, such as social media optimisation or display advertising.

Findings from a recent study by the CMO Council into digital marketing trends across Asia Pacific in 2012 support this theory. The report identified the top three challenges for Australian marketers executing digital campaigns as:

  • Budget limitations,
  • resourcing, and
  • and determining the best technology to use.

 

The report also found that only 31% of Australian marketers are allocating digital marketing funds to mobile applications and messaging, and even less (14%) are pursuing mobile advertising.

The benefits that mobile marketing brings to both consumers and marketers are undeniable, and the business opportunity is immense, mobile therefore must be among the top priorities for marketers.

Mobile optimised marketing activity provides consumers with rich, contextual experiences and better connections to the people, brands and information that are important to them. As marketers, we can more effectively create, customise, analyse and optimise content and experiences for consumers that generate better results for our company and/or clients.

The CMO research also found that Australia invests more in digital marketing than any other country across the Asia-Pacific region. While mobile represents a small part of this now, Cisco reports that mobile web traffic grew by 40% in Australia during 2012, and is expected to grow 13-fold globally by 2017. This demonstrates there is real business value in mobile as well as immense marketing potential. So whether you’re a seasoned digital marketing pro, or just getting started, here are three quick tips for getting into mobile marketing:

1. Find out how mobile your community already is

As marketers we crave data because the more you know about your customers, the better decisions you can make when going to market. You can find out how people are consuming your content, including the types of devices they’re using, by looking within the traffic data available through your web analytics solution. Based on this you’ll be able to gain insights about how mobile your community is, which will help demonstrate why a mobile strategy is important to your business – especially as mobile traffic continues to grow exponentially.

2. Build once with responsive web design

With budget limitations being the biggest challenge for marketers, it’s important to build the highest quality/impact mobile content as cost effectively as possible. However, the explosion of mobile devices poses a real challenge for marketers to deliver content across a range of different screen sizes. The answer to this problem is responsive design.

Responsive design enables you to build web content in a way that automatically adjusts to fit any device (including desktop), without compromising the content or the consumer experience. This means you only have to build once, rather than creating lots of separate content for specific devices.

3. Get more out of mobile (and digital) with analytics

When it comes to determining the best technology to use for your digital and mobile campaigns, how you analyse is equally as important as how you build. Mobile is able to give you a wealth of data, such as location, core metrics such as revenue per customer, user path and drop off, which acts as real-time feedback that can be used to optimise the content and consumer experience. So when you’re deciding what technologies you’re going to use in your mobile campaign, always factor in the key metrics that demonstrate success and find an analytics solution that will deliver the data.

As consumer preference for mobile experiences continues to grow, there’s no question that over the next few years mobile is going to continue to be a critical method of communicating with your customers. I’m interested to know though, are you going to take advantage of the opportunity in mobile, or will it stay an afterthought?

 

Mobile will take 50% of budget in 2017, but held back by skills gap: study

Marketers will spend 50% of their budgets on mobile by 2017, but for the moment are hampered by their lack of understanding of the medium and difficulties in quantifying return on investment, according to Experian Marketing Services.

Only 4% of the 320 marketers involved in Experian’s mobile marketing study are regularly implementing mobile marketing activities, despite a widespread belief it will be one of the most important ways to communicate with customers in the future.

Head of research and consulting at Experian, Dave Audley, puts the slow uptake of mobile down to three key reasons: a skills gap in the industry, difficulty in demonstrating ROI and the tug of war for budgets between traditional and new channels.

“There’s some confusion and difficulty when it comes to budget allocation,” Audley says. “Marketers are finding its quite difficult to quantify return on investment by channel. Organisations are reluctant or not committing to investing in the [mobile] channel just yet until they fell confident that they can measure the return that they get.”

Mobile has also added another layer of the complexity to the tug of war for budget between traditional channels and new, Audley adds. “Rather than out with the old in and with the new, organisations are looking at retaining old channels; traditional offline channels are also becoming increasingly important.

“Finding the priority to put the focus that’s needed into making a successful mobile strategy come to life is quite a challenge.”

As a result, almost six in 10 are yet to test the waters with mobile, while 41% have created a strategy but haven’t started implementing it.

When asked to rate the importance of marketing channels, 53% of marketers said face-to-face communication was one of the top three most important channels. Email was rated by 50% of marketers as a top-three channel, and social media mentioned by 42% of marketers as a top three channel.

Early adopters of mobile report good results, the study found. The vast majority of respondents believed the various mobile techniques asked in the study to be effective, with mobile-optimised websites, m-commerce and MMS emerging as the most likely to be perceived as ‘highly effective’.

Email ranked down the list slightly, while custom apps were the most likely to be perceived as ineffective.

Search, display and video pre-roll were not asked as part of the study.

Perceived effectiveness of mobile techniques among marketers

experian

“In the next five years Experian predicts more than 50% of marketing budgets will be associated with mobile, particularly as traditional, above the line channels, such as TV and billboards become more interactive and entwined with mobile,” Audley predicts.

“Clever companies will integrate mobile with existing channels, without compromising other activity. Because mobile is cost effective, easy to implement and is nimble, it creates a dynamic platform where brands can create a two-way dialogue.”

 

Ignorance is not bliss

As a marketing manager (we do most of our stuff online) I have a budget to look after and my main goal is to maximise the return from my marketing investments. I have lots of tactical choices available – banner ads, search, print, emails, newsletter sponsorship, social media and so forth. To decide where to allocate my hard-earned budget, I generally look to the history of my various campaigns and spend more where I know I will get a better return.

The hidden problem for marketers is that many of the measurement tools being used to determine campaign outcomes are totally bogus and so the results being used to determine future marketing investments are false. Truly, you could be operating in a vacuum of blissful ignorance and not even know it!

Most of todays online web analytics tools, including Google Analytics, Omniture, Webtrends and Yahoo Analytics default to what is known as last click attribution – that is, they count the value of the conversion (sale, booking event etc) towards the last marketing activity that happened. Last Click attribution is good for measuring conversion events but will not tell you which campaign brought the customer to you in the first place – for that you would measure the First Click. And what about the other campaigns along the way that influenced the conversion? How do you measure these and make sure they get some credit as well?

The key takeaway is that depending on the attribution model you are using, your return on investment (ROI) and return on ad spend (ROAS) may vary dramatically, and may lead you to make different (and possibly very wrong) decisions about how to best optimise your marketing efforts.

Whilst there are some very advanced attribution techniques being deployed by some companies, the general consensus today is that an approach looking at First, Last and Average Click, side by side, is a sensible and achievable approach – and it can be done with minimal effort (and possibly a spreadsheet, if you must).  Such an approach will show you which campaigns are working better for acquisition, influence and conversion – you can then weight the results to drive the campaign mix you are looking for.   

A recommended action plan:

  1. Find out which attribution model you are currently using,
  2. Re-assess your current marketing program now that you know what your are really measuring,
  3. Implement a First, Last and Average Click attribution model for your business,
  4. Reconsider your mix strategy for acquisition, influence and conversion,
  5. Make more informed and effective investment decisions,
  6. Bask in the glory of knowing you have improved your marketing effectiveness, and
  7. Spend your ‘Management By Objective’ bonus!

This is my personal blog. The views expressed here are my own and do not represent those of my employer, Coremetrics.

2009 officially ad sectors worst year

According to official figures, 2009 was the advertising industry’s worst year.

Revenues for the sector fell 8% last year, to $12.57 billion: $1 billion was cut from budgets. Australia fared better than the US and Britain, which fell by 13% and 12.7% respectively. The previous ‘worst year’ for the sector in Australia was 2001 with a 6% drop.

It only confirms what we already knew, that 2009 was the blackest year for advertising revenue since I first compiled figures in 1960,” said Bernard Holt, CEO of the Commercial Economic Advisory Service of Australia.

The Age reported Steve Allen, a media analyst with Fusion Strategy, explaining the impacts on Australia:

It could have been worse but it could have been better… It didnt seem to matter that things were ticking along nicely here. They just said: Cut and they did.

The information comes after Harold Mitchell, chairman of Mitchell Communications Group – Australia’s largest media buyer, predicted a 5% rise for 2010.

The (marketing) Christmas wish list

Jingle Bells! Jingle Bells! Christmas is in the air! I know I run the risk of causing a few people to roll their eyes and move on because the thought of the approaching silly season can be a little too much for many of us. I’m cool with this, but I’m going to take that chance and hope that for many of you, this is the time of year when we start to pen our thoughts and hopes for marketing campaigns 2010, while reflecting on the year that was and how we could have all done things better.

With this in mind, I would like to get us all thinking about our Christmas wish lists as marketers. It’s not as fun as jotting down your personal wish list and handing it to your partner but still, it’s a nice way to think about the new year and an important task that ensures 2010 will see you and your team make vast improvements to your tactics and realign strategies to fit current business goals. It can also be a highly rewarding and insightful exercise to conduct with your team members. Use it as a chance to brainstorm and collect important feedback on the year’s progress – you’ll be surprised at how useful a little reflection can be.

But back to the wish list… Once you’ve had time to reflect and gather your thoughts about campaigns and strategies gone by, then you can begin your wish list for 2010. I’ve decided to share a couple of common marketing wishes below for us all to consider but I’d ideally like to see feedback to this blog from marketers willing to share their own wish list for 2010. No need for massive detail if you can’t be bothered, but wouldn’t it be good to see how your needs and wants compare with industry colleagues? A lot has happened in the last 12 to 18 months, so go on… jot down your thoughts below and let’s see where people’s priorities lie for the new year.

1. More budget

For most of us, we’ve experienced cut backs in the last 12 months and so the thought of doing more with less for a whole new year is not very appealing. Things might still be tight but if you have facts and data to back up your request for more budget then you stand the best chance of securing more dough in 2010. Think about how you can demonstrate the value of your campaigns in 2009. Work out how many sales or lead generation opportunities your team contributed with each campaign. Show your CEO and/or CFO the actual return on their marketing investment. This is the best way (and often the only way) to secure more cash for your team in the new year.

2. Expand our marketing repertoire

Another common marketing wish is to see growth in the variety of tactics used. It’s easy to get bogged down using the same lead generation ideas and so, for many of us, a new year presents an opportunity to expand our repertoire. But how are we going to do this? If we haven’t secured a whole lot of new budget we’re going to find it difficult to add new campaigns with no budget to support it. And so we’ll probably drop a couple of campaigns that are feeling a bit tired and adopt some new ones. But the critical point here is: how do we make sure that we keep our most fruitful campaigns?

Even though a particular tactic feels tired and boring, it might actually be one of our top performing campaigns. Similarly, when we introduce new ideas, we need to ensure that they are in fact performing better than the campaign they replaced. The new campaign might seem more fun and interesting to carry out but it still needs to bring in results, and it needs to improve on the outcomes generated by the old campaign.

3. Improve the website

This might seem like a low priority to some of you, but for many the process of changing website content can seem like a completely arduous task, no matter how minor the change required. Often senior management get comfortable with a website’s look and feel, and become reluctant to make many changes. Either that or they put change management processes in place that quite simply make it too hard to respond quickly and appropriately to marketing campaigns. In this circumstance, we need to present evidence to support our claim that certain parts of our website create bottlenecks for site visitors. We need to gather data to show how our products page sits too far below the website surface or that our information pages are too long and drive people away.

With these three typical wishes explored briefly, I ask you to contribute your top needs and wants for 2010. Go on, don’t be shy, let’s see what marketers really want this Christmas.

“This is my personal blog.  The views expressed here are my own and do not represent those of my employer, Coremetrics.”

GM to cut 2009 marketing spend

In a 40-page document of financial results released today, General Motors Corporation has disclosed that it will slash marketing in the US by $800 million this year alone, including vehicle incentives.

A report from AdAge.com says that in a December 2008 filing, GM had said it would cut advertising and marketing spending in the US by $600 million by 2012. In document released today, the automaker says the cuts were necessary due to lower sales volumes.

Ray Young, GM’s chief financial officer, says that the automaker had to use a lot of incentives in the fourth quarter to offset the lack of credit from GMAC, but still eliminated leasing in Canada last year and is reducing leasing in the U.S.

“That’s an expensive form of incentive,” explains Young.

GM reported a global net loss of $30.9 billion for 2008, including a net loss of $9.6 billion in the fourth quarter.

All four of GM’s regions around the world moved into the red, but the biggest losses were in the US.

GM’s debt balance grew to $45.3 billion in the fourth quarter, which includes the $13.4 billion the company has already received in federal loans since late last year.

It asked the US government for $16.6 billion more in February, saying it needed another $4.6 billion within weeks and an additional $12 billion more to avoid bankruptcy.

GM has also reported that its net liquidity slid from $27.3 billion in the fourth quarter of 2007 to $14 billion at the end of December 2008.

Traditional broadsheet media now less than 20% of Fairfaxs revenue

www.theaustralian.news.com.au

Marketers investing in the broadsheets are going to have to think on their feet as time gets lean for the papers.

In a recent speech to the Sydney Institute on the future of print media and quality journalism, Fairfax Medias chief executive David Kirk, defended the companys restructure and 550 redundancies, saying that growing competition meant their papers no longer aimed to deliver the news first, but to deliver it the best quality journalism in a profitable environment.

Quality is not just about numbers – how many journalists you have – it is about performance and what our journalists produce, he said.

Quantity does not equal quality.

Today Fairfax, publisher of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, was dramatically different from the past as those mastheads now only
contributed less than 20% of total earnings, Kirk commented.

New technologies meant Fairfaxs newspapers were no longer the gatekeepers for news each morning.

We still do set the news agenda for electronic media – there is no doubt about that. And we set the news agenda because we have the resources to do it.

This further solidifies the important implications marketers must consider when revising their advertising and media strategies, and how best to allocate their budgets in response to declining paper circulation numbers.

What percentage of your media budget are you spending online?

With the myriad of media opportunities available to the marketer in an offline and online world, the media channel budget allocation decision will be continually harder to make moving forward. Having worked first hand in media agencies that tackle these conundrums professionally, I can confidently say there is no magic formula to determine the splits. Yes, some major media agencies have developed tools to assist, but Im yet to be convinced that they actually work and are robust.

The rule of thumb I hear bandied around marketing classrooms and boardrooms is 10 percent. I’ve viewed and created many a media schedule significantly higher and lower than this but I doubt they would ever end up @ a flat 10 percent across the board.

Looking at the credit card markets media spend I could confidently say at least 80 percent + is attributed to online media. FMCG, ont he other hand, gets less than two percent. Having worked on campaigns for both categories there are a number of reasons why the difference is so large.

So what about your brands or businesses? Without giving the game away, what percentage of your media budget do you spend online? How do you come to this figure? Do you think it will increase or decrease over time?

Looking forward to your comments.

Guerilla Guide: Briefing ad agencies

I’m sitting in a city café and it ain’t as simple as ‘white with one’ anymore. Skinny cap, soy mocha, skinny soy latte in a mug with the handle facing south. So many variations. People have too much time, too little to do. Here I am ordering a boring old skinny latte, which means cow’s milk… what an environmental sin! Fancy buying the juice of a methane-producing polluter… Do I try to fit in and order a soy drink? Bugger it. I hear soy gives you cancer anyway. Plus I’m already the odd one out: I’m the only person I can see who’s not wearing a tie.

Opposite me is the client, a major player in the finance industry. She’s very bright, very professional, but struggling with her role today. She asks me if I take on briefs. I’m appalled at her forwardness… (Sorry, had to try the joke, but pathetic, I know.) She ignores me, like the entire world population who are under 30, and goes on to explain her dilemma. They are having trouble penetrating the teenage market. Seems teenagers think and respond completely differently to anyone else in their customer base. Amazing. (It is always quite a problem for those in mass marketing. How do you keep a level of brand consistency when the message has to be radically different? But I digress again…) I should mention this is a professional organisation we’re discussing here. While they represent older, conservative, mostly white men, their core target market (for members) is younger, hipper and, like every group today, they are trying to be non-gender specific, non-racially biased.

We go though her understanding of the mindset of the target teenagers. We discuss the findings from a few focus groups they’ve just run. Then she pulls out a folder – it’s neatly blocked together in colours per issue – under headings like ‘pricing’, ‘psychological impacts’, ‘media use’ etc. She squirms, from what I’m guessing is embarrassment. It’s so big I start to feel faint. (Like those folders you get handed on a two-week live-in course.) Maybe I need a glass of water. I catch the eye of a waiter…

I’m hoping, as you do, they don’t really want us to take this all in and come back with something sensible. But, yes, they do. Yes, she expects us to wade through hundreds of pages of tightly typed notes to understand her brief. I think, as I smile and go slowly pale, that it’s got to come from above. This isn’t her. This anal, control freak stuff must be from senior management. I tell her I’ll email back my understanding of her brief, before I send it on to the creatives. That will save her time/money and stop me losing a few from jumping out the window into oncoming traffic.

There’s a point in life where you want to be professional, and there’s a point in life where you have to say, “This is over the top”. Two hundred pages of detail for a job that’s only worth a few hundred grand is a waste of a couple weeks. All it says is one of two things. Either you need another job ‘cause you’re so bored you actually have got time to put together a folder like this, or you need another job because someone in your organisation thinks you need to put together folders like this to brief somebody.

Which brings me neatly to the issue this month. Agency briefing. What works, what doesn’t and what costs you double as much for half as good?

Clients briefing an agency can vary hugely in their approach. From the ‘Just tell us what you think’ as they pass you in the street types, to the very serious this is the brief types who have 23 pages of closely typed thoughts just on the buying process – neither of which is exactly ideal. To get it out of the way, high cost briefings (assuming you’re paying people by the hour) are those that give way too much detail, that send creatives down unnecessary paths that waste time and/or that change frequently.

One of the roles of agency people is often to train clients into what makes a good brief for their agency. This is usually part of the ‘bedding down’ process, followed by all agencies and other creative groups, where you take a client and educate them about your systems and processes under the guise of getting to know them, but that is itself deserving of an entire article.

The public doesn’t care what your brief is

Don’t kid yourself that your cause is the cause of the general public. Their key causes are food, gratuitous entertainment, saving the globe and world peace. Yours only rates a mention if you’ve managed to grab their attention and hold onto it long enough to register on their personal radar. So don’t brief like it’s about you and your cause. Brief when you’ve worked out what it is that will work for the public. What is it the punters want from your widget?

It helps if you make up your mind

“My God, I’ll have to know what I want. And what we need as a company? All we really want is sales in December that are 15 percent better than last year’s, but that makes us sound shallow and this is a national, annual campaign, so maybe I better rethink what it is we want…”. If this is you, don’t panic. We in Adland expect you to be uncertain about it. “Seventy-nine percent of agencies claim clients (yes, you) use the briefing process to establish their own strategy, while 55 percent of clients say that briefs often change after the project begins.” (Paul-Mark Rendon, Marketing Magazine, Canada, September 2006)

Sometimes it’s best to make other people debate it

This paragraph could have been headed ‘leave it to the agency’, but that would have been saying agencies know all, and they just don’t. ‘Getting other people helping’ is a better thought. People who ask tricky questions and debate issues with you at briefing stage are way more valuable than those who just nod and come back in a week with crap. This heavy duty thinking is often the role of the accounts manager (or ‘strategy planner’ in a big, pretentious agency). It’s their job to take a crap brief and distil it down to a message or strategy/concept the creative team can get their heads around and respond to.

The agency needs to understand the job

First and foremost, it’s your job as a client to make sure the agency understands the job. (This is not your only responsibility. Your other key one is approving great creative.) Frankly you shouldn’t be working with them if they don’t understand your briefs. If you’re not sure they understand fully, ask some sneaky questions, like “What is your take-out from what I’ve said?” Or “How do you expect us to be positioned in a year from this brief?” etc.

Don’t be intimidated by suits/creatives

They give you forms to fill out, make a fuss about the content and go over details you didn’t think mattered. It’s all part of the ‘take us seriously, we’re professionals’ bullshit they throw at you to justify their retainers/nice cars.

We can blame anything on the brief in Adland

It’s so much easier than saying, “We didn’t come up with the goods.” Common comments are “the perfect brief is pure fantasy, like putting a rainbow in a jar”. Or, as Neil French (ex WPP creative head) once said, “Client briefs should be skipped altogether – taking things out is always better.”

The brief can be taken way too seriously

My most favourite quote has to be, “Forget just for a minute that you are briefing an agency. Instead, pretend you are standing on the bank of a river, about to build a bridge.” Taken, I kid you not, from the ‘Joint Industry Guidelines for Young Marketing Professionals’ in the UK, which includes marketers, PR people etc.

Mind you, I may be playing down the briefing process. Alan Doyle got it right by saying, “The key to effective briefing is to provide a simple insight that can be dramatised memorably” (‘Joint Industry Guidelines’). Certain information is crucial to any good campaign. So let’s cover what’s absolutely necessary in a brief.

Briefing basics – give this info to the agency

What’s this about?

What’s the actual job? Is it time to refresh the brand’s identity, do you need a new press campaign (because you’re sick of average in-house media jobs) or is your boss on your back to get better results? Whichever way, we all need to know why you’re doing it before you do it.

Who is it you’re targeting?

Demographics: who, how old, income levels, education, where they are, gender, relationships, jobs, etc. If you’re a mass marketer, like Coke, this could be as short as ‘anyone with a mouth’.

Psychographics: how they think, buy, behave, attitudes, perceptions, stage in life, political or entertainment mindset, star sign, hobbies, sports, etc. Again, this could be as short as ‘grumpy dumb people’.

Your company or brand’s position

Where you’ve been, where you are now, where you’re going and how you intend to get there.

What you need to achieve

Key goals and KPIs, time-frames, budgets.

Branding issues

What does the brand stand for (values, features/benefits), how is the brand portrayed (visually/audio/characters), previous recent creative (if they don’t know it) and any brand projections (future plans, if not obvious).

What hasn’t worked in the past?

Previous creative and media buys.

Why this matters

How this brief fits into the overall scheme of things in life, the universe and your career. Politics in your organisation – what does the big boss’s wife like? Is the finance department angry or happy about this sale and why etc.

Media thoughts

Media spend/rationale, if not being developed by the creative agency (always seek their input on this – media groups want to sell more space, costing you money. Better creative uses less, so costs less, saving you money.)

Focus

Core thrust/objectives of the brief – what is the key issue? If you say to a creative team that each one of these briefing points matter, they will be all over the shop. They’ll be doing work on issues to which no one will respond. They’ll waste days chasing moonbeams. Days you’re paying for. On the other hand, if you say this point is critical, this point is number two and the rest are just background you can ignore if you like, then that’s perfect. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t discuss things from a range of perspectives. But you must have an idea what it is you want back…

Present how?

Do it a bit face-to-face, and a bit written down. Make the written stuff just the basics and a couple of dreamy thoughts. Keep it under three pages. Background stuff (10 to 20 pages) is OK, but the more info, the more confusing the brief, the more costly it will be.

Avoid too much information

Information overload confuses and freezes creatives. Creatives will always say to you, “We need more information.” Background stuff is great, because it gives them an opportunity to work their head around an issue and this is important because the creative process takes days to filter through from a briefing to great work. And you must allow them to take this time, or you’ll get shit creative. And that process needs bits of information to chew on. But the danger is in giving too much priority to too many issues.

Briefing forms

There are lots of them out there. They are good to fill out when you’re a bit unsure and you want to look busy one morning. I’ve never seen one that fits all circumstances at all times and invariably the short briefing paragraph works better to focus creative efforts than a 20-point form from your head office in Luxembourg.

Bites at the cherry

Many of my best clients will ring in over a couple of days (or send a few short emails) with other thoughts on a tricky brief, as things occur to them. Better to pass on more information or your changing thoughts on focus, than get it a little wrong and leave it wrong. If there’s a bit of information that is critical, give it to the creatives. Don’t assume they’ll ‘get it’ by osmosis.

The reality

Clients are strapped for time and often don’t have anyone inside the operation with whom they can debate these points. And they do need debating. The onus is often on the agency to find the information. If the client can’t provide it, the agency ought to go out and get it. Yes, fill out the best practice briefing list but if you don’t know what one particular answer is that’s not the end. A good agency ought to be able to work with you on finding the answer. All of the above will take time, so cost you money. Get over it.

Rejection is good

Trust the agency who argues the brief. If they put in a decent body of thought, they are worth their retainer.

Limiting your outcomes by your briefing

Many great products don’t go mass market because they think their product is ‘exclusive’. I know factory workers who drive BMWs, millionaires who drive Falcons. What I’m getting around to is that many briefs assume things that are plainly wrong (but seem right to a passing observer), because their authors are in fact ignorant of how the world really works. Don’t limit your career/business by briefing too narrowly.

Hidden agendas

These always exist. Yours are most probably career advancement, making sales, building the brand and, most importantly, being noticed, so it’s easier to explain what you do at the gym when someone asks. Your real need, to give the brother-in-law some work, may never come up at all. Their hidden agendas usually relate to the politics of the boardroom, and/or who’s shagging who in your office or theirs. These agendas rarely cross-pollinate in a positive manner, but one can hope. I’m a big believer in ignoring most agendas, ‘cause if I worried about them, I’d never get any sleep.

Value for money

How to get it is by thinking about what’s needed first, briefing accurately (note it’s called briefing) and then letting go of your baby and allowing people to actually be creative – that’s basically what you’re paying for.

Paying for briefing

If it’s an ongoing relationship, then you’ve already sorted out how the money works and the agency is either formally charging you for taking a brief or you’ve somehow agreed they’ll hide it in other costs (like everyone else in the world does). If it’s a pitch, taking a brief and more so, responding to a brief costs a fortune. If you are a half-decent company you will suggest a payment for the exercise. This normally won’t cover much more than the coffee and croissants run, but it goes a long way to being taken seriously and getting a far better response from management/creatives than those companies who feel (because they don’t get paid to put a pitch to Coles Myer or NAB) that they shouldn’t pay others to pitch. Most agencies nowadays charge by the hour. Like your lawyers. If you asked them to do 50 hours of work, would you expect to pay for it?

Budgets

Give people budgets. Some wankers believe in keeping it to themselves and think that saying something like “tell us what you think we should spend” is clever, like it will magically make your agency ask for less. But all it does is make things too hard for the agency, so you go to the bottom of the pile. Grow up and trust people. The agency is trusting you – they’re investing good money/time in answering your brief.

Sex is quicker with people you know

The better you know each other – agency/client – the less detail you need to give them each time. It can get down to basically a nod and a wink in a dark alley. “Oh, we can finally do the chocolate range. Usual budget. I need something for the board to approve, say next Friday?” That might be it as a brief from a very familiar client.