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The growing tension between global brands and their local audiences.

Globalisation means different things to different brands. McDonalds has a long-held strategy of standardising the flavour profile of its products, so that your first bite of a Big Mac in Beijing will be essentially the same as in Buenos Aires. Partly, that’s a function of quality control and standardisation of sourcing and production methods, but it’s also a recognition of the fact that the first moment you put something in your mouth is a pretty memorable brand experience.

They’ve also pursued some experimentations in localisation, with specific menu items in India, New Zealand, Brasil and other markets to cater to local palates. If you put the product aside for a moment, however, the branding and messaging is absolutely standardised across the globe, and that is increasingly true of many truly global brands.

Wanted: attractive models with obscure mixed ethnic background

This is often a function of economics: the cost of producing and managing 10 different TVCs, for example, to run in 10 different markets (an absolute quantifiable figure), is generally seen as higher than the benefits of improving relevance by tailoring those same TVCs for those 10 markets (virtually impossible to predict and even harder to calculate as an ROI). The worst example of this process are the lip-synced pan-regional shampoo ads, featuring vaguely pan-regional-looking actors in immaculate homes of unearthly whiteness. Ultimately, these ads look like they were created in outer space, or planet ProctorLever.

local relevance, brands, globalisation

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The middle of where

So the reflex action from a lot of global brands is to develop a single campaign in a centralised hub – sometimes this is done at the centre of the advertising world (Manhattan or London) or in a centre of cost arbitrage (Bangalore) or geographic proximity to the bulk of the market opportunity (Hong Kong, for a North Asia market, for example). Agencies operating in this model spend a great deal of time playing ‘brand police’, creating brand bibles and managing the approval process.

However, as ’emerging markets’ start to gain confidence and sophistication, demand is growing for brands that talk to local audiences in a way that is authentic, believable and relevant. It’s not to say that local audiences don’t see value in big global brands, but that the brand experience is now expected to become more personally (and locally) relevant. We want these global superstars to come to our house party, but we want them to talk to our friends and sing karaoke with us, not just sit in the corner looking cool, surrounded by minders.

Follow the pendulum, follow the money

Over time, most global brands swing between the extremes of ‘country first’ localisation and ‘global only’ centralised standardisation. The first is expensive and, ultimately, unmanageable at scale – satellite television and social media have effectively ended the idea that messaging can be quarantined to specific countries or even regions. The second tends to result in ‘average-ised’ campaigns that are efficient to produce and work ok in most places, though rarely spectacularly well anywhere.

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brands, global, local

Standby to receive official global brand broadcast, which you’re just going to love.

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Global agencies make most of their money managing this ongoing tension between global consistency and local relevance for global brands, re-organising and re-staffing as they follow the swinging pendulum between to two ends of the spectrum.

Does the ‘dinosaur medium’ have a plan for the future?

But what if you could build a hyper-efficient globalised/standardised marketing and messaging distribution system that still leaves room for local insights, and relevant local expression? What would that look like? Where would it be based?

Sorry to get your hopes up, but I don’t have the answer, and I’m not sure many global agencies do. But we have been working on some smaller-scale prototypes that steal the idea of global ‘formats’ from the television broadcasting world (y’know, the one that the internet is apparently destroying?).

In particular, we’ve been looking at properties like the singing and cooking shows that dominate the world’s screens. There’s some real operational genius going on here – they are built from the ground up with the intention that certain aspects will be (nay, have to be) modified for local markets, but also with structures and processes that must not and cannot be fucked around with.

Probably

If you look at the ‘Idol’ format, there’s always a set number of judges and archetypes that must be followed (the encourager, the eccentric and the bitch), but the individuals in those roles are chosen to be extremely relevant to the local market. The number of shows required to cover the qualifications, eliminations, finals and ultimate winner are also set, but the choice of songs and music styles is, again, completely local. The blue neon logo looks the same everywhere, but the costumes on Israeli Idol are very different to those worn on Brazilian Idol.

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They didn’t come to cheer your incredibly well-translated global strapline.

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So it’s got more flexibility than a franchise model (McDonalds is not going to let you re-design the menu in every country) but still retains a cohesive brand experience (the narrative of rags-to-riches talent discovery, audience voting to determine the ultimate winner, for example) in all of it’s 46-and-counting global markets. Another key ingredient worth noting in this approach is the use of local production partners and an IP licencing, rather than head-hours fee, remuneration model.

Importantly, from a creative and strategic standpoint, although there are things you can’t change when you work on one of these global formats, there are plenty of very satisfying levers you can pull, which helps attract quality local talent to work on these global formats – a very real issue in the agency world.

As we start to see real business benefits coming from global brands offering locally-relevant experiences, there may well be a change in the way agencies operate to deliver these formats: less of the command-and control of the McDonald’s/Starbucks globocorps and more of the adaptable formats & partnerships approach of Fremantle Media or Endemol.

The recent acquisition of a stake in Droga5 by LA-based talent agency William Morris shows that it’s probably already happening.

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About the Author: Barrie Seppings blogs about making things better – for clients, brands, agencies and humans. He is currently Regional Creative Director at Ogilvy Singapore and he likes boards surf, skate and snow. Follow him on the Twitter, connect on LinkedIn, or add him on Google+

About the images: all photographs used with the permission of Martin Ollman Photography. Contact Martin directly for rights and commissions.

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If people don’t understand what brand journalism can be, I think it could go sideways and end up being derided as another ‘failed journalism experiment. I’m bound and determined to see that that doesn’t happen.

Brock Meeks, editor of Ideas Lab: curated and operated by Atlantic Media Strategies but owned and paid for by GE.

“first we build the stacks, then we understand the patterns, and then we can make some money” 

Matt Locke, director of www.storythings.com on how the next era of the content industry will play out.

Make it easy for speakers to keep sharing the content and feedback from their sessions

The speakers you have chosen to present at your event were probably selected for several reasons: expertise, experience, presence and their ability to draw a crowd. That last factor is probably also true in the digital space, perhaps even more so than in the real world. Many speakers work very diligently at growing the quantity and cultivating the quality of their online following.

This can be used to your advantage even after an event has passed, as speakers will generally be on the lookout for new content, in interesting formats, that they can share first with their followers.

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b2b, speakers, digital, event

Your speakers want to stay connected with their audience. Give them a hand.

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So think about how you can help these speakers reach their goals first. Pay it forward and the benefits will automatically begin to flow back to you and your event. Ensure they have priority access to the content from the event – particularly the content they may have created or participated in. Capture their reactions to or commentary on the event as a whole. This gives a whole new texture to their presence and will extract more value from their appearance.

There can also be a cumulative effect to be gained from encouraging speakers to interact with each other online, particularly if they have audiences that don’t necessarily overlap, either in terms of topic specialty, geography, preferred social platform or some other characteristic.

Before you get carried away, make sure you have permission to amplify your speaker’s work. Be totally transparent about what you plan to do with their content and make sure your agreement with them agreement covers it.

This is the tenth and final installment of the series: 10 ways to leverage digital for better B2B eventsWe recently ran an audit of the various tactics, strategies and recommendations we’ve developed @ Ogilvy for using digital to improve the live event experience (for the audience) and performance (for the marketer) – this advice is a summary of what we found to be true and useful.

If you’ve discovered a new way to boost your B2B event with digital, share it with @barrieseppings 

< Previously in this series: #9 Ongoing digital communities

 

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About the Author: Barrie Seppings blogs about making things better – for clients, brands, agencies and humans. He is currently Regional Creative Director at Ogilvy Singapore and he likes boards surf, skate and snow. Follow him on the Twitter, connect on LinkedIn, or add him on Google+

About the images: all photographs used with the permission of Martin Ollman Photography. Contact Martin directly for rights and commissions.

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After the party, move the conversation online for social lead mining opportunities

The digital world is full of simulations, some useful, others not so much. Live events themselves are meant to simulate communities, which becomes meta when you consider that digital events are a simulation of a real-world, meat-space, here-and-now gathering of people. Online communities, in turn,  are simulations of the loose collections and connections we cultivate everyday.

You might even combine your post-event content strategy with your post-event community strategy so that the place where you house your content automatically becomes the place where you cultivate these discussions and connections.

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b2b events connections communities

If they’re making connections on the floor, make a space where they can continue.

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Providing a well-designed space where attendees can keep on attending (even though the event may officially be over) can yield lead identification, segmentation and even sales opportunities. A word of advice: don’t build these platforms from scratch – leverage existing community-building platforms that are relevant to your audience: LinkedIn groups and Google+ circles are obvious examples. A more sophisticated approach is to develop a dedicated Social Lead Mining strategy, where you actively listen for discussions and, in particular, requests for assistance that relate to the solutions you are trying to promote.

A note of caution: dropping in, unannounced, on conversations amongst attendees and launching into a sales pitch will be as well received as an insurance salesman trying to sign new policyholders at a family BBQ. Think ahead to prepare the resources and social presence you will need to look for lead opportunities in a ‘digital social’ setting – this may include social training, creating specific nurture assets, developing a segmentation strategy and an execution plan. If you pursued any attendee profiling and segmenting strategies before the event, dust them off and aim them at your most socially-active attendees. If you are lucky enough to have your audience drawn from the local area, consider arranging a casual, real-world meet up for attendees who have remained in contact after the event.

If this sounds like a lot of work, you are 110% correct. However, you have to ask yourself: who is a better prospect than someone who can’t say goodbye to the content and connections they encountered at your event?

This is the ninth instalment of the series: 10 ways to leverage digital for better B2B eventsWe recently ran an audit of the various tactics, strategies and recommendations we’ve developed @ Ogilvy for using digital to improve the live event experience (for the audience) and performance (for the marketer) – this advice is a summary of what we found to be true and useful.

< Previously in this series: #8 Reaching out to no-shows  

> Up next: #10 Keep the speakers on

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About the Author: Barrie Seppings blogs about making things better – for clients, brands, agencies and humans. He is currently Regional Creative Director at Ogilvy Singapore and he likes boards surf, skate and snow. Follow him on the Twitter, connect on LinkedIn, or add him on Google+

About the images: all photographs used with the permission of Martin Ollman Photography. Contact Martin directly for rights and commissions.

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They said they would come, but they didn’t. Now is not the time to let them slip away.

Personal information is a valuable currency in the digital world, and it is the lifeblood of Demand Generation. Perhaps even more valuable, however, are time and attention. In fact, some observers have coined The Attention Economy as a phrase to describe the trade between brands (who offer value, information and utility) and their audiences (who pay with their time, focus and feedback). As a theory, it has its critics but it useful to help understand the scarcity of your audience’s attention.

Keep this in mind when dealing with the inevitable ‘fall off ’ between registrants and actual attendees. These people  had some intention of turning up or tuning in – they made a small initial investment of time and attention to register or indicate their interest in some way. Ultimately, they weren’t able (or decided not) to be there. Either way, they didn’t continue investing. The question is: how do we react now?

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b2b events digital

Maybe they got a better offer? Don’t punish your no-shows, there may be value in them yet.

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It’s useful at this point to revisit your objectives, (what did you want your prospects to do as a result of coming to your event?) and skip straight to that for non-attendees.  What can you offer a no-show to bring them back into the fold and get them to continue the relationship or respond in the way you were trying to generate with the event itself? If you were trying to match prospects with your own internal experts at the event, for example, now is the time to reach out and offer to do that, virtually, for your no-shows.

It’s really important not to relegate or punish them for not showing up – sympathise with their plight and offer them a fast-track or make-good offer. Consider a summary stream of content that makes them feel like they have broadly ‘caught up’ with what happened at the event, but with very clearly marked paths to pursue more connection or utility. You might want to consider a way that also showcases other attendees – their contributions and reactions. This re-enforces the perception that the event was well attended, not just in terms of quantity but also quality. Give the non-attendees a sense of the community that was formed at the event and an opportunity to connect and still become part of it, perhaps as part of an ongoing digital community.

Finally, work out a plan B and offer it to your non-attendees: can you direct them to a similar or related event in the near future? Offer to pre-register them and send reminders to ensure they can attend your next event.

This is the eighth instalment of the series: 10 ways to leverage digital for better B2B eventsWe recently ran an audit of the various tactics, strategies and recommendations we’ve developed @ Ogilvy for using digital to improve the live event experience (for the audience) and performance (for the marketer) – this advice is a summary of what we found to be true and useful.

< Previously in this series: #7 How to distribute your content      

> Up next in this series: #9 Ongoing digital communities

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About the Author: Barrie Seppings blogs about making things better – for clients, brands, agencies and humans. He is currently Regional Creative Director at Ogilvy Singapore and he likes boards surf, skate and snow. Follow him on the Twitter, connect on LinkedIn, or add him on Google+

About the images: all photographs used with the permission of Martin Ollman Photography. Contact Martin directly for rights and commissions.

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Taking your live event beyond the four walls of the venue

Whether you are planning a physical or virtual event, digital holds the promise of increasing the reach of your event far beyond either the time or place you originally intended. Your core audience is still the most valuable, particularly if they have offered you accurate profiling information during the registration or attendance phase, but you can continue to grow your audience by planning for a wider distribution of content after the event.

Before you think about how you want to distribute your event content, make sure you are clear on the ‘what’.

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#b2b events w2fm

If your objective is a full house, don’t broadcast the whole show

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A word of warning: resist the temptation to video the entire event and make all of the content available online immediately afterwards. For those who attended, you are offering no new value. In fact, it becomes a disincentive to those who made the effort to register and attend at either a fixed place or time. This is particularly important if you run a regularly-scheduled series of recurring B2B events

Increasing the supply (of information) inevitably decreases the perceived value. this is very important if your brand runs an annual or recurring series of events:  if your audience comes to expect your entire event content on demand, they will see little point in committing themselves, physically, to your event schedule. You are basically training your attendees to stay home and log on instead.

So if full-blown telecasts are out, what’s in? Take a leaf out of the television industry’s book and get into the recap businessSummaries like these make better sense for people who weren’t in the room. Or commentary by experts. Or reactions from attendees. Or a discussion by a few speakers or panelists. Or a pitch from the trade show floor. As to formats, video is the obvious answer, but it can be expensive. An audio commentary over a slideshow (either a deck or a collection of images) can work just as well, particularly now that Slideshare is part of the LinkedIn empire and is starting to become integrated into that experience in more meaningful ways.

This is the seventh instalment of the series: 10 ways to leverage digital for better B2B eventsWe recently ran an audit of the various tactics, strategies and recommendations we’ve developed @ Ogilvy for using digital to improve the live event experience (for the audience) and performance (for the marketer) – this advice is a summary of what we found to be true and useful.

< Previously in this series: #6 How to encourage referrals          

> Up nextin this series: #8 Reaching non-attendees

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About the Author: Barrie Seppings blogs about making things better – for clients, brands, agencies and humans. He is currently Regional Creative Director at Ogilvy Singapore and he likes boards surf, skate and snow. Follow him on the Twitter, connect on LinkedIn, or add him on Google+

About the images: all photographs used with the permission of Martin Ollman Photography. Contact Martin directly for rights and commissions.

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