Welcome to the Interact Congress Blog. We have invited some leading European guest bloggers to share their observations on interactive marketing and communication skills within the integrated experience. The blog also offers you a first opportunity to interact with your peers.

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Saturday, 8 May 2010

Online advertising and inbound marketing: it's all about people

In this social media day and age, we increasingly move from outbound to inbound marketing. There are differences between B2B and B2C businesses but B2B companies are catching up very fast in the inbound marketing space and inbound is growing year after year.

What is outbound marketing? In a nutshell: the campaigns and marketing activities are 'pushed' to the people and are often interruptive. What is inbound marketing? Well, the opposite.

Content marketing, SEO, blog marketing and social media marketing are forms of inbound marketing. Events, call center actions, direct mailings and TV ads are forms of outbound marketing.

Email marketing/advertising is difficult to categorize. It's a bit of both. After all, the recipient gives his permission. And at the same time there is an evolution towards a more conversational and valuable focus on the recipient. But, despite all this and the fact that email marketing has found a strong companion in social media, there is a broadcasting aspect as well.

When do display ads contribute to the brand experience?

Which leads me to the big question: what about display advertising? In a way, display ads allow people to find you. That's a bit inbound. They do have an impact on branding. But they are often intrusive. That's outbound. Can I add that they are also still very often without value for the people that should see them, being you and me?

However, it's not really about the formats. It's about what they contain: the story, the promise and the content.

Whatever the definition: if display ad campaigns don't engage the people that see them, use intrusive formats and are not set up in function of the needs and wants of people, in the formats and circumstances that are relevant and enabling people to get something out of them or what they promise, they fail.

Customer-centricity is key in everything we do. The same goes for display ads. If they simply are about pushing your products and services or about one-way branding, they are not perceived as valuable.

If they are used to offer something that your 'target group' seeks (fun, relevant content, a paper, interaction, etc.) they will lead to a positive brand experience.

Your brand is not what you want it to be. It's what people make it: the people in your company and the people in the influence sphere of your online brand.

Give your brand a face and value beyond the brand itself. Let go of your brand, and it will get stronger than ever. In display ads as well. The value is in reputation and thus the value you put into relationships. With people, as people.

Display ads should engage people and get them talking or taking action. No, this does not mean display ads are about clicks (alone). Engagement and interaction are also about word-of-mouth, interacting with the creatives themselves and being surprised, impressed and touched. Display ads can do that. If you dare to let go more of your brand.

Again, your brand is not what you want it to be, so don’t try to “position” yourself via a display ad, in fact forget positioning completely (sorry, Al Ries and Jack Trout, but it is what it is). Your brand is what you get when you involve people, in all layers of the ecosystem that determines the value of your online brand.

Feel free to comment here or on Twitter.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Socialised brands can be contagious, social media is just stuff.

Social media strategy.

There’s something inherently wrong about that, no? Why create a bespoke strategy for this? Or worse, mistake “being on Twitter” as a strategy. Social media is becoming a bit like a collection of stuff; half a pound of Facebook here, a dash of blogging there and a slice of Twitter on top as a garnish. Oh and a bit of that FourSquare malarkey to make me look cool. To the extent where the phrase “social media” is becoming a bit of a hindrance rather than a help because people use it to default to executional elements such as having a Twitface.

Where social media is really interesting is it being an enabler to our business and brand strategy. Yes, I am going to use that word integrated because the social media world doesn’t just exist in marketing, it transcends the entire business. Which is why social media should probably be killed as a term. It suggests a marketing only existence. And the endless isolation of social media from other comms and its positioning by social media people as the saviour of everything is why it’s viewed by many senior marketers as a bit of fairy dust and not something that can fundamentally make a tangible difference to their strategy and their business objectives. You don’t just do a TV ad without understanding the business and brand challenges so why are we so eager to suggest getting on MyFace is right for your brand without understanding these challenges?

Change the focus to how social can enable your brand by using the space in the right way, being cohesive with all your other activities and allowing deeper engagement, amplification and reciprocation of your strategy.

Socialised brands can be contagious. Social media is just stuff.

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