Fresh out of The Marketing Conference – Queensland’s own marketing booster – I wanted to share a few tips from the outstanding speaker line-up – and just a few simple ‘tricks’ I’ve come across over the years.
#1 Document your decision drivers.
For Simon Sinek, this includes your why. For David Pich (Chief Executive, AIM) it includes your vision. For Andy Lark (CMO, Xero) and Danielle Duell (Founder, People with Purpose), your purpose is at the centre. For Lauren Fried (MD, Pulse Collective) this includes your brand and values. What is ‘this’? Well, it’s not the bumper sticker statements with no heart that get shellacked to the wall behind reception. This is your set of meaningful statements that get to the heart of why you exist, the value you seek to bring to the world and the behaviours you live by. As Lauren puts it, they become your blueprint and, when done well and simply, they provide a critical go/no-go filter everyone in your team can use.
I had the honour of working with NuGrow, a dynamic environmental company, earlier this year helping their team define their new vision – healthier environments creating healthier communities globally. This (along with some other core concepts) is being used as a litmus test for everything from sponsorships to new business opportunities and, most importantly, is something the team can get behind.
Action point – do you have your core decision drivers set? If you do, are they alive and well and impacting your team’s daily decisions? If you don’t, I encourage you to take the time to map who you are, what you stand for and where you’re going…and give it life in your organisation.
#2 Explore latent demand.
The numbers game of venture capital firms can be packed with insight – at least when it’s led by Thomas Thurston (MD, WR Hambrecht Ventures). Thomas developed MESE™, a quant-based computing system that predicts the likely success or otherwise of start-ups. His insight – if you’re a new entrant and your business strategy is the same as existing offers, and your plan is simply to be better, you have a low likelihood of success. When you have a different business strategy, the rewards and probabilities of success jump considerably. This is particularly so if you tackle the opportunity of latent demand – ie non participants. That’s where you can build up steam and become much harder to beat.
Andy Lark also talked about embracing moments of doubt, dissatisfaction and desire – a twist on latent demand…tackling something in a way no one else is.
Action point – whether you’re starting out or are deep into your business, it may be time to challenge your idea of your market and consider whether there’s latent demand out there.
#3 Prepare for the future.
Yes, as if the present wasn’t tough enough already! But when you listen to someone like Maree Taylor (MD, Colmar Brunton) talk about the progress being made today with artificial intelligence, experiential tech (like the phones that work off a bracelet and a touch screen on your arm) and a shift from ownership to access (seen through movements like car sharing), our ‘round the corner’ is here. She aptly said businesses are usually focused on the next two to three years but the sands will have shifted by the time we get there. We need to start preparing for the future in a different and far more agile way.
This was echoed by Murray Howe (Head of Strategy, Adobe) who said that marketers need to challenge whether they are really disrupting their business because the future is one big upward curve of more change. Effective marketing, as Murray put it, involves the skill of helping a business understand what’s happening up ahead and helping them decide how to respond (or even shape the future).
Action point – Maree recommended the book The Inevitable by Kevin Kelly – maybe as a bit of a wake-up call. Otherwise, grab some popcorn, sit back for an hour (maybe a little unnerved) and watch it here:
#4 Fall in love with data.
I want to say, nuff said, but it’s incredible how many businesses don’t mine their data, let alone actively seek more out. This was particularly big for Andy Lark and Lauren Fried. There are numerous free and low cost data sources, so budget is no excuse…to say nothing of the data that is likely sitting within your business (being insightful all on its lonesome).
Nicole McInnes (MD, eHarmony) did caution against having to use data to back all marketing decisions – and that will always be true (the story of the Sony Chairman’s invention of the Walkman, which was revolutionary in its day, will always be proof of that). However, that’s for specific gut decisions…not every business decision. Know your customers/clients, discover your benchmarks, and get your baselines to understand change over time.
Action point – start with your own database (which, yes, may be sitting with your accountant!) and get some smarts around your customer/client profile. Use that as a springboard to then seek out external data to build a more robust understanding of your market potential.
#5 Create staged journeys.
When it comes to our digital behaviours, I think it’s fair to say that most companies are still finding their feet around how they behave. Where customer experience meets UX (the user experience online), Russ Vine (former MD, Ogilvy Brisbane) gave the very wise advice that when you’re trying to get people to do a big thing, think of a little thing they can do along the way. It begins that classic process of awareness to attitude to action – and is just as relevant in the social cause/non-profit space as for companies. Then, he said to remember the ‘purchase’ (the action) is only half of the challenge. You need to continue thinking of their experience and building loyalty toward encouraging advocacy.
James Gilbert (Head of Marketing, Hubspot) gave similar advice around matching ‘the ask’ to ‘the give’. For example, if someone is downloading a free ebook, sure, ask them for their company name and mobile number and more, but if you’re offering a free checklist, you probably want to go for a much lighter request for information.
Action point – take a look at your marketing and sales pipeline through the shoes of your customer/client and consider whether you’re staging it in a way that will take them on a journey, rather than come to an abrupt (and maybe premature) end.
#6 Consider micro-influencers.
Jules Lund (Founder, TRIBE) gave a presentation on micro-influencers that was something of a revelation to me. Unlike people who pay socialites for name-dropping their brand, micro-influencers are transforming the digital landscape for the better.
These are everyday people who have as few as 3,000 followers. The key value is their followers are interested in the specific passion or expertise of the micro-influencer. That makes their smaller crowd far more powerful than a miscellaneous mass if your business matches that passion or expertise. As Jules put it, it’s authentic to boot, these influencers get far better engagement rates than the big guns and your business gets an incredible base of content (not bad when most social media active businesses are continually trying to feed the beast).
Action point – visit TRIBE and check out a home-grown innovation that’s tapping into the incredible creator economy at play every day.
Tipped out? Well, we can jump out of the conference now for three simple tricks – one I’ve loved for years and a couple I’ve come across more recently.
#7 The Business Model Canvas.
There’s no question that a robust business plan is a must if you’re serious about doing anything other than treading water – or swimming from side to side. However, if you weren’t built for business, it can be hard to know where to begin (whether you’re a start-up or sailing on short-term success). This plan-on-a-page is a winner.
Action point – get it here!
You've seen those images from companies where they have their screenshot on a laptop or mobile device and figure they must have a fantastic photography budget? Mockuper is one of a number of sites that lets you generate your own ‘in-situ’ photos at the click of (a few) buttons.
Action point – try it out here (and donate if you love it)!
If you want to create a hot-looking quiz in less than an hour, Qzzr has you covered. It lets you generate some of the most popular styles of quizzes – like the near ubiquitous ‘which character are you’.
Just this week I worked with the team at Carroll Consulting – culture-fit recruitment specialists –to launch a quiz using this great tool. For them, it was a fun way to give people an insight into a robust attribute test they have developed – the CDI-Pro Scale…curiosity (C), making a difference (D), an improvement focus (I) and proactivity (Pro).
Action point – get quizzy with it here!
And if you want to know how curious you are, give Carroll Consulting's quiz a spin:
As for The Marketing Conference, no, I’m not taking a commission, but when it comes around next year, I highly recommend it.
And now…go get 'em.
PS Trick #10 – if you’re after some high quality images on a shoestring, try Unsplash. Following the points above, those photos are from #1 Pablo Garcia Saldaña; #2 Nina Strehl; #3 NeONBRAND; #4 Tirza van Dijk; and #5 Alessio Lin.