It’s not about us, it’s about them

On 22 October 2015 I went to CIM’s first event in their 8 month long professional marketer series. The topic was ‘Digital capability and collaboration,’ and was hosted by the London College of Fashion. All marketers know how important digital is and that it’s becoming ingrained in everything we do — but do we ever stop and think about what we are doing and why?

As I listened to Tom Edmonds from the Conservative party talk about their 2010 versus 2015 digital election campaigns, it made me realise that the work that I do isn’t about me or the company I work for, but it’s about them. The audiences we are talking to and engaging with. The partners, current and new, that we are trying to support and collaborate with.

This sounds blatantly obvious, but I think all marketers can lose sight of this. It’s easy to do. You’ve got deadlines to meet, content to produce and refine and endless to-do lists. But, when do we stop and really think about what messages we are putting online, who we are targeting and what they are interested in?

Putting digital at the heart

Tom spoke about the mistakes they made during the 2010 election and what they did differently during 2015 which led to their success. His steps to success were just common sense:

1) Take digital seriously
2) Build a team, secure a budget
3) Focus on where the audience is
4) Offer something
5) Right messages for the right audiences
6) Make the supporters part of the team

Build your audience to last

The key to their success was that their digital was built slowly, well considered and planned. In 2015 they didn’t just dive into a new channel without thinking about it, something which they did in 2010 when they were the first political party to advertise on Spotify — and it wasn’t good. They also launched WebCameron, which they thought was great but the public weren’t interested. They quickly realised in 2010 that they weren’t taking digital seriously, they produced content that was about them and they didn’t test or measure well.

All of this really resonated with me and my role as Marketing and Communications Manager at London Sport. We are a new organisation, merely seven months old with a sole purpose to make grassroots sport work better in London. Right now we are building our brand and its credibility. At the moment we produce content we think is right, but on reflection it could just be that we’re talking about ourselves, instead of talking about our audiences and what matters to them.

We are building our audiences and seeking out our advocates. But all of this takes time and is never a quick process. Of course you can see instant shares, re-tweets and the like on your social media channels, but audience influence and engagement is a marathon, not a sprint.

You can’t do it alone — collaborate with specialists

One of catalysts at the early stages of Tom Edmonds team’s success, was that with continuous buy-in through testing and measuring, they knew quickly they couldn’t do it alone.

Over time, they grew their team to ten people and Tom Edmonds described it as a self-functioning internal agency. Ranging from technologists, to copy-writers and coders, the specialists collaborated together and began producing some staggering results. Including growing their newsletter list from 300,000 to 1,400,000 and producing 350 different customer-centric creatives for Facebook alone. They were talking to the right audiences, at the right places and in ways that were important to their audiences.

One thing that we’ve got right so far at London Sport, is that in order for us to achieve our vision, we can’t do it alone. Collaboration will be the key to our success. We’ve put our hands up and said ‘we can’t do this on our own,’ and that we need experts in the field of technology, business and much more to get it right. By applying common sense to our digital and collaborating with other experts, I am confident our work will have impact and achieve our goals.

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