Netflix Offline Crown advert, a jeep in raffles place

Take your markeitng offline, Netflix style

Very few companies get omni-channel marketing right. Online retailers (eTailers) and most online services tend to focus predominantly on online marketing, and most brick & mortar/offline services are still struggling to market effectively online. Mixing it up isn’t easy when you’ve been doing business the same way for a while (read: too long).

That’s why I’ve been so impressed by Netflix. I expect to see their adverts online, instead I see their crazy installations (below) downtown, and read about the exciting things they’re doing at local cafes. It’s different and it’s a jolt that reminds me that things in my online world are still real. It’s not just an app icon on my tablet. How effective are their offline stunts? My wife watched an entire season of ‘The Crown’ in a weekend after seeing the jeep (at Raffles Place). She’s hooked and is already scouring Netflix for more to watch. I’d say that’s effective.

Netflix Offline Crown advert, a jeep in raffles place

They’re not the only one’s clued on to this tactic though. HootSuite recently held the first (of an annual series) of events for digital marketers at a city hotel. There was a fairly wide mix of people, but what was evident was that everyone was (drinking, networking & …) talking about HootSuite. Sure loads of companies host cocktails, but they aren’t usually SaaS companies – nor do they usually have branded cocktails & cupcakes.

HootSuite cocktail event

So if you’re an electronic business, start looking at what you could do to get your marketing offline. It doesn’t fill the typical boxes of “scalable” & “low touch”, but when done right it can certainly help to get you organic content coverage and sticky mind share. All the same rules apply, define a target audience, be clear and concise and remember to measure everything.

Chinese Dolls side by side

Every CMO’s five point strategy for scalable growth

Almost every start-up and investor loves to talk about hockey stick growth, and scalability. Creating a business that can scale, meaning handle substantial increases in workload without affecting quality, isn’t easy though. Lots of companies fail trying to scale. So how can you prepare to create a scalable company?

I asked Penny Wilson, the CMO of HootSuite. She’s proven her skill at scaling companies, having grown Alias from $35m to $110m before being sold to Silicon Graphics; and grown Macromedia from $125m to $650m before being sold to Adobe for $3.4b. As a plus, she’s got a degree in Computer Science, so she’s a bigger geek than most CMOs.

Penny Wilson, HootSuite CMO

Here’s her five point ACEIT strategy to scale a business:

1.       Assets

Understand what your core asset is, most companies only have one or at the most two. Focus on it, make sure to differentiate and build on that core asset. Don’t get distracted. Don’t try to be too much for too many people. Don’t chase the next shiny thing.

2.       Customers

Ensure that the voice of the customer is incorporated in everything you do, whatever aspect of your business or strategy that might be. Customer success, support, internal processes. I believe that customers will take you places you’ve never thought about. Make sure you understand who your customer is, what they want, and what their opinion on your products and your competitors are. Always be customer centric. Whenever you make a decision, make sure it’s in the best interests of your customer.

3.       Ecosystem

You can’t do it on your own. It’s really important to have partners, thought leaders and key people in your industry that can help you scale. Good partners will help you expand your reach, grow your offering and build your credibility – with a fraction of the investment you’d need to do it yourself. They are a key strategy for any company, make sure you work together to create win-win relationships.

4.       Innovation

You always need to be looking for something completely different from what you’re doing. It doesn’t need to be technology, it could be in your process or in your data. It’s just about thinking differently. In the old days of computer graphics nobody’s hair would move, so the key differentiator for us was to have an algorithm for digital hair. Making hair look real, allowed us to leap frog our competition. It wasn’t an incremental change, or something we copied to stay at par, it was radically different. Be bold and do things that will make you stand out.

5.       Team

If you want to get stuff done you need a good team. Keep building the strengths, talents and passion of your team. When managing a team, it’s important to be able to manage failure – because it’s inevitably going to happen. I believe that failure can be as good as success, the important thing is to take the high road. When something goes wrong, good leaders need to help people through it. Don’t hide from the failure, recognize it, accept it and move on. It’s about encouraging grit & resilience. Teams that are gritty will survive failure and grow better because of it.

What are you doing to scale?

You can’t accurately predict what will happen or how any particular plan will actually turn out. As a leader, scalability is about creating the right atmosphere and culture for growth. The software, processes and technology is important, but they’re just tools to support a team that’s focused on growth.

Selling with big data

Got good data? Here’s how you get great marketing

Jori Messer, Regus

Customer’s first, you see that emblazoned on lots of signs. How many companies really put their customers first though? A customer centric, data driven approach really is the only way to ensure that you’re consistently improving retention and staying ahead of the competition.

Understanding how your customers feel about your services is more than just a touchy feely HR excersize, it’s essential to your strategy. “I think it comes back to the essential reason as to why we want the data. To improve our business decisions. Too many decisions get made on intuition and gut feeling, rather than numbers, research and facts.” says Jori (Director APAC, Regus)

Using customer insights to create more relevant messaging

After running a survey with Survey Monkey, using an audience panel of 1000, they discovered that there were a lot of people that weren’t familiar with the brand. The survey delved into what influenced their choice of workspace. “That data helped us translate and change the messaging to specifically mention those aspects. What ‘they were looking for needed to be in the messaging, so that we could create that ‘click’.” Jori emphatically says “Knowing what your customer is looking for is critical to getting your messaging right.”

“The survey highlighted that we need to be heavily localized. Locally relevant.” Whilst many brands have a global identity, knowing who you’re serving in each local market, what their needs are, and how you can adjust your messaging to them, is very important.

As an example of how their messaging has changed, their previous (Google AdWords) campaigns had language that was focused on their global network. That has since been changed to talk about their local branch network first and only mention their global network at the end. The exercise paid off, with the localized advert content driving measurably more leads and better conversions.

The insights from the survey, and positive results from their initial localization efforts – have had an impact on their marketing across the board. There’s been change in everything from their marketing photography (using local models), to the text copy (local emphasis, local place names), right down to the keywords and core messages (why their customers buy their services in a particular country).

Your customers already know what they want

Customer feedback can have an impact well beyond just your messaging though. Your customer feedback can be leveraged to drive improvement across your business. Don’t just use one customers fancy ideas though – real insights are grounded in solid data from thousands of clients. It should hopefully feature helpful data points like “percentage of customers interested”, and weighted opinions on “would probably buy”. Which is why asking the right questions, and conducting a proper analysis on the traditional ‘feedback form’ is more important than ever before.

Customer feedback is a mountain of wealth. Use it not just to improve existing services, but as a key driver to introduce entirely new products. “It’s why we decided to partner with WiFi hotspot & airline lounge providers.”

So what does this mean for your marketing & your business?

Do not underestimate the value of data. Investigate. Even if you have an instinct, and a wealth of industry experience. Your investigation doesn’t need to be complicated, just ask a few hundred people and look for clear trends. A bigger audience is better, but a clear trend doesn’t really change with varying sample sizes. Good customer data will give your marketing clear direction, if you’re start-up it might even give you clear business direction. As Jori says “Before you build a product, build customers. Be product minded. We see a lot of startups build products, assuming that once they launch they’ll acquire customers – only to realize that they have a product no one wants. I think its essential that you know who your customers are, and those customers that you test how they respond to the product ideas, whether they’ll purchase, and whether your product solves the customers problem.”