How to Adopt a Creative Agile Approach to Marketing — and why you should
I myself, am from a fashion and design background and as a result I strongly believe it is possible to bring a creative ethos to even the most constrained of industry environments (yes, even finance).
In such a skittish online environment, creativity is set to become the crucial point of differentiation, between one brand and the next. An agile marketing approach will ensure that your brand has the fluidity to evolve, as the customer does, and reduce the risk of becoming irrelevant and idle.
By establishing early on, within your initial marketing plan, exactly what your brand essence is and then market knowingly nurturing it.
Being creative can be challenging and even uncomfortable and you will be ‘banging your head against a brick wall’ if you can’t get everyone to buy into a creative and agile approach. It has to become both an integrated approach to digital projects as well as a company wide attitude.
Taking a creative lead is ‘doing things first’ and a core understanding that, following what others have historically ‘done well’, is not necessarily going to work in the same way for your business. To be truly creative a brand must own its own identity and this is the essence you have to find and get everyone to believe in.
Let’s begin at the beginning!
Make sure your goal is clear
You want your strategy to do a specific job, this is because no one strategy is likely to cover all the elements you are targeting. Know why you are putting the effort in and what the key objective/s are.
Tighten your segmentation
There needs to exist a fluidity within your marketing segmentation strategy, its ok to start with broader assumptions — everybody needs a starting point. You must test these assumptions, regularly, or risk losing people who exist on the periphery of your target group. Be open minded and accept that your gut is not always the best judge of character — lets be honest people are strange creatures with a knack of doing the opposite of what we expect.
Know your customer.
It doesn’t matter how you say it, it remains the singular truth — you know nothing if you don’t understand the very people you are trying to reach.
Relying on age groups to segment is flawed; 18–25, 26–45, people are more than their age and nobody turns into a different person on the day they move from one age bracket to another.
Try segmenting your audience by emotional response instead — is what a particular group have in-common,perhaps an attitude to something instead. e.g A love of funny cat memes? Its hard to put an age figure on something like this because it could be so broad. Marry this with other indicators and you have a tighter segmented group.
Talking in board terms to a general group of potential customers is no longer going to be an option.
As searches tighten and content reaches saturation point, smaller, evermore ‘niche’ target groups will make up your customer profiling.Narrow ‘pigeon hole’ people at your own risk.
Understand Social is changing
We can all be guilty, at some point, of being very Generation — X about everything, hopelessly idealistic, when change was always inevitable.
That once utopian, accessible, landscape has become an impenetrable elitist hub, where money is the vernacular. Facebook has been the test bed for monetisation of our social habits, advertising naturally follows and will become the norm, as will the apathy that will inevitably follow.
The customer will evolve as they always do, filtering out what they don’t need and seeing only what they wish to.
You can’t jump on a platform and expect to, organically, grow a huge following, it’s harder now.
We are at the billion mark with Facebook and new platforms, such as Snapchat, move fast and have the power to disrupt the comfortable status quo. Changes to functionality can be swift and affect your carefully curated following, your numbers, and even restrict your visibility to your hard researched, chosen target audience.
The Instagram community had a virtual breakdown over algorithm changes last month as the platform introduced more advertising and changed the newsfeed (unsurprising and honestly quite predictively inline with their parent company Facebook).
If you want to have a social presence then you will have to work for it and be prepared to revisit your strategy — agility is key here.
Remember — What is your message and how does it fit within your marketing mix? Is it strong, memorable?
Whatever you do, get a third party (anyone not closely working on the project) to sanity check the concept- or risk a viral backlash.
Agility is the key
Content as ‘King’ has been the vernacular for so long now that content is at saturation point.
On a daily basis I feel like I’m drowning in content about how to create content — a bizarre and ironic juxtaposition I know.
Content optimisation should now be the primary focus for marketers (that and how to become a journalist overnight).
What does your target group need to know, how will you bring value to them, how will you be memorable.
Be human about things, people connect strongly on an emotional level, cold and dispassionate information is less likely to be retained — you need to make people feel something.
Remember — test for readability,(use a free online source such as read-able.com) and make sure your ‘grade level’ is also inline with your target audience.
Can creativity still cut though?
I’m old enough to remember when models became ‘super’ when kids went to raves ( yes, I can just about remember the 90’s) So now we have ‘super’ bloggers and ‘girl squads’ instead (apparently kids would rather have a coffee than go clubbing?) but a singular truth remains for all the over analysis this is just life and this is a cycle we are in.
The names of things change, we are labelled differently — we are now defined by letters, X and Z. Kids are kids, people are still people and it will still always come down to good, solid, marketing.
Creativity and innovation will always cut though, it’s what people crave.
Remember — Disruptive Creativity is what makes people sit up and take notice and will make it through a sea of imitation any day.
Next Gen SEO — SERP and CTR
Heard of RankBrain?
“RankBrain is a machine learning system that has analysed language use across the web to help Google better understand what words, phrases and blocks of content mean. It then uses that knowledge to better understand user search queries and the user intent behind them, and then pick the best existing Google algorithms to match that intent and deliver a search result.”
Eric Enge for Stone Temple Consulting
Deep learning by machines sounds like the stuff of nightmares, however, in truth, its important that you understand that when it comes to search results, Content and Links and then RankBrain are the top three contributing signals. Essentially RankBrain is helping to improve relevance matching and your content is being evermore scrutinised.
Start targeting, tightly, know your SEO implications — what are the keywords you wish to be found by, then check your work meets ‘the’ said requirement — or risk falling down the page.
- Be current — new information, new view points.
- Be fast — mobile ready and using the publishing tools widely becoming available from Facebook, Google and Apple.
- Be relevant — to your audience.
- Be unique — a new point of view or way of looking at an issue.
- Be Valuable — try and be a valuable resource or offer a way to make life easier for you audience.
Don’t be a ghost
Short cuts won’t work, they may save you time, but the key to engagement is engaging with the customer so you can remain as agile as the consumer is. Be human, it’s harder, takes longer but it is worth it.
Video Killed Everything
Video is only going to become more relevant, mobile use is up and as the tech increases this will be the primary way of accessing information. Lets face it who has time to read though this endless stream of content.
There is evidence that video content is retained to a significantly greater extent than written text.
Perhaps rather tellingly, video, is now being prioritised by most social platform algorithms.
Remember — speed is key, content needs to load fast and sites need to be optimised for mobile.
Rise of the Influencer?
Influencers are exactly that. They preform the same function as celebrity endorsement once did because its the same thing. They can be ranked in a similar way — there have always been A listers and the Z’s
If you have something you need to push, then people can do it for you, whether you call them celebrities of influencers is irrelevant, they both cost, and it needs to be relative to your budget.
Anyone can be either, it will be down to you to gauge their worth to you. They need to be part of, not all of, your marketing plan, keep your eyes open to their limitations and make sure you plan for them.
Remember — Popularity doesn’t signify quality, and in the case of v-loggers for example, it may be, simply, that they did it first.
B2B companies have been historically slow to tap into the opportunities presented by social media marketing but by adopting a creative and agile approach you will find that there really is no reason for this to be the case. If you truly understand your target group you will find a way to reach them; just because everyones ‘not doing it’ doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be.
Measure your results, (I know you don’t want too but) you must, otherwise you risk continually making the same mistakes. If an idea ‘tanks’, you need to know why.
There is no one answer, I wish there was, but as I said at the beginning…
It will all come down to good solid marketing.