Sexism & Marketing

It’s that time of year when many companies spend an awful lot of money on the production of ‘the perfect ad’ for Christmas. We’ve seen everything in the past…there’s the big budget, catchy jingle of the Coca Cola ad, this year’s low budget Waitrose ad, the ‘all out’ ads from some of the UK’s biggest retailers. I love it. I love seeing how they pitch themselves against each other, try to be bigger, better and improve over last year. One ad that stands out this year is a certain retail chain – ASDA.

If you’ve not seen the ad, I suggest you watch it and make your own judgements before reading further.

I have to admit I watched the clip thinking of how Christmas plays out at home. Growing up Mum did everything – well, mum, gran, me and my sister. If Christmas had been left for dad to organise, we would have had chips & egg for lunch. There’d have been no presents, no decorations and no feast of special treats. So, I’m very surprised to see the furore over the ASDA ad in the newspapers and online publications.

Is it a piece of sexist marketing? Or is it just what happens at home?

I wonder whether it’s a generation game? My mum likes the ad, thinks it is true to life. Other, younger friends think it is sexist and the message is wrong. But, what about the other folk for whom the ‘mum’ figure represents the person/people who get the bulk of the work and preparation done for Christmas?

It’s tongue it cheek. It’s how Christmas will happen in many households. Mum will do most of the work, while the kids, relatives and other family talk/play/relax in another room. Dinner will be a feast at a table that has been ‘assembled’ for the occasion. Mum (and others) will likely clear up. Finally she’ll get to relax only to be asked about tea. Yep. That’s how it is. It’s not meant to offend. It’s not meant to be sexist.

If it makes you feel better, take out the mum figure, replace her with the person at your house that gets it all done. Does that work?


Marketer vs. Marketeer

Years ago I wrote a blog post about whether I considered myself a marketer or a marketeer. The answer for me is clear. I am a marketer. I am not a marketeer.

I did a degree in marketing, I’m a marketer. There are people who refer to themselves marketeers. Marketeer sounds like someone is making a joke of marketing (that’s never happened before, has it?). I don’t like it. It’s a cross between marketer and musketeer.

I decided to find out what others think and here’s what I found:

What do you think?

Did I miss another memo?

‘What do you know about content marketing?’

Those of us with a background in marketing have been watching as the discipline changes and adapts over the years. But, recently, I have the feeling I missed another memo, this time about content marketing. When did outbound become unfashionable and inbound become the ‘in’ thing?

I don’t think any of us have missed the memo, if I’m honest. Content marketing is becoming ‘the big thing’ for marketers today. A lot of companies are adopting an inbound/content marketing strategy today, next year it’s likely to be mainstream for all* B2B companies

I recently attended an event about content marketing where the presenter, Stan Woods of Velocity Partners, talked about the changes in buyer behaviour driving this change. He shows us a video which contained some amazing facts and figures to back this up and then went through some great examples of how to make content marketing work for your company. The lightbulb moment for me was talking about getting marketing off the rails. You know the kind of marketing I mean, when a company broadcasts why it thinks its products are fantastic and why everyone should agree… Content marketing is the kind of marketing I’ve always believed in. The kind I’ve always tried to do. And now, it seems, it’s the ‘revolution’ we need to help our companies survive.

The big mindset shift has yet to come with companies who are bound to their product release schedules. Can they really get to the point where they understand what a content marketing strategy is and why ‘me, me, me’ or ‘me too’ marketing won’t work anymore?

Buyers will research products, benefits, features, pricing, customers and reputation before they purchase. Your press release or advert won’t necessarily tip the balance in your favour, but showing your expertise, demonstrating value and having a ‘voice’ in the market, will.

The secrets of success? Creating great content is a must. Having outstanding copy is a must. Utilising analytics is a must. Understanding your customers is a must.

There’s still much to learn as content marketing evolves, but I’m ready. And, no, I didn’t miss the memo! I’m passionate about the change, I’m happy I’m involved and looking forward to what’s next in marketing.

Stan ended his presentation with the following words of wisdom: ‘We’re only as good as our last piece of content.’ How very true!

*all being my view of the world.

The Social Media Debate

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ represent a growing number of social media/social networking sites. Whether you like them and use them or not is irrelevant, their growth and popularity shows they are here to stay. When I was a fresh-faced graduate the chatter was about having an email address. Networking within an office was unheard of and sending an email to someone sitting at the desk opposite wasn’t the done thing. But today, everything is shared, communicated, written, developed and discussed using social networks – both from personal and professional perspectives. And so the lines blur between our personal and professional lives. Where do we draw the line? Both from a business and an individual perspective?

Recently there have been a few headlines about handing over a Facebook ID and password prior to interview. Should Facebook have any bearing on your job prospects? And Twitter? When I joined my previous company I was already Tweeting about everything to do with marketing. It was my ID, my followers, my network and therefore nothing to do with my company, right? I was happy to carry on Tweeting about my exploits in marketing but was always careful to keep my company’s name out of it. My ID, my decision. But, if your company encourages you to Tweet about your company from your ID and you build followers on that basis the lines become blurred. Who really owns the ID? The legalities of ownership are being challenged in the courts as companies seek to make the very best from the rise and rise of social media.

As a marketer, I want to encourage my team to Tweet, to use LinkedIn to engage, share content and to build relationships. I would argue that if you build Twitter followers as a result of interesting, thought-provoking, humorous or fun Tweets, then those followers really won’t care where you work. They follow you, the individual. But what does your company think? Can your company influence your Tweets (or other social media interactions) to enhance its own reputation? Is it OK for your company to take advantage of your followers, your reputation and your relationships?

Does your company have a social media policy? Have you read it? Do you understand the limitations of what you can / can’t Tweet about from a work perspective? Does your marketing team provide you with Tweets that you are encouraged to share? Do you retweet your colleagues? Or comment regularly on LinkedIn groups?

All of these questions have been posed recently by various people, groups, associations and companies. Who has all of the answers? There isn’t one definitive policy that covers these. So, for the moment, be mindful of what you Tweet, where, when and how much you talk about your company. ‘Social’ is here to stay. What you say today on the Internet won’t just go away tomorrow – it too is here to stay.

Where do I turn?

Marketing has changed a great deal since I was a fresh-faced graduate in my first job. I was keen, full of enthusiasm, passionate about what I had learned, but, I was oh, so very green and totally oblivious to the ways of the business world. Luckily for me, I had an opportunity to work with a great boss. I gained a lot of knowledge working for him, then working with him and from him becoming a mentor. I was lucky. Very. I knew what I wanted from my career, and with guidance from my mentor, how I could make that happen. He was a sounding board, a font of knowledge and someone who’d been through it many years before.

Today’s graduates may not be so lucky. They are entering a business world where bosses (and other colleagues) are stretched beyond belief, not to mention stressed and there are few companies that offer a mentor/coaching or ‘buddy’ system as part of the HR function. Whether you’re new to the business world or you find yourself in need of a little bit of guidance, where do you turn for support?

For its members the Chartered Institute of Marketing provides a mentor service through it’s branches. The Mentor program is a great way to find a marketing mentor, to meet new people and to find that extra support when you need it.

I recently attended a mentor event with my local CIM branch. It was wonderful to meet so many new people, to talk about marketing, business, and career paths with them, but also quite upsetting that so many organisations just aren’t doing enough for their employees.

For example, with budgets squeezed, a number of companies are not offering ongoing training/development options to employees. Those employees are struggling to see how they can possibly progress in their careers as a result. Not only that, they find it hard to see where their future lies within the current company. The economy will take some time to recover from the ‘recession’, so as senior marketers we have to make sure we do our best to support the next generation as they come up through the ranks.

Mobile Marketing: huh?

Mobile Marketing is a term that conjures up many different opinions when you ask people what it means to them. Ask them what return they want from it and those opinions differ too. With consumers and businesses making use of smartphones and iPads to access websites and a plethora of apps wherever and whenever they choose, getting your mobile marketing strategy right is becoming more and more important.

You have a website already and you’re ready to think about mobile, so what next? To app or not, that is the question.

If you have a website, review your digital strategy before you jump in with an app. Think about what your website does today, how and where people use it and the journey you want to take people on. Does your website achieve the objectives you have set for it? What would an app deliver in addition to what your website does today?

Apps are cool. The devices we use to access them are cool. But, does that justify the development expense? Or ongoing costs for new versions? How will you show a return? For most of us with a responsibility to show return on investment (ROI) it will come down to results.

Rather than building an app to it is better to ask ‘whether your website is mobile friendly or not’? Does it play well on multiple formats? Has it been designed with the customer in mind? Do you give your customers a single view regardless of how that customer interacts with your company? If we don’t deliver what the customers what to see, in a format that they prefer, we lose out.

When it comes to your digital strategy, think about that you want to get out of your website and the journey you’ll take customers on. Cool comes later.

QR code: to use or not to use? That is the question.

QR codes have been kicking around for a while. One of my colleagues interestingly choseto describe it as “another example of nice idea from a tech perspective, but not that useful in reality”.

QR codes have attracted controversies and support alike. Jon Barocas in his article “Why QR codes won’t last” on @mashable, describes how Mobile Visual Search (MVS) will displace QR codes and the security risks of QR codes. In this post, I am not trying to add to the controversies or support.

Personally, I believe QR codes like any other technology, will ultimately be displaced by new innovations. Keeping pace with new innovations, technological or otherwise, has always been one of the key challenges for marketeers.

I also believe that the real challenge though, is to use available tools in an innovative way to deliver great experience which will ultimately decide success vs failure of a marketing initiative. And the same applies here to QR codes.

Yes, QR codes involve that bit of extra effort by the user to fire up an App. But time and again, it has been proven, make it worth their while and they will do it! As long user effort involved feels like it is a part of their journey rather than a hurdle to overcome to get to what they want.

Tesco reinvented Grocery shopping in Korea with its Virtual Stores, and QR codes play an integral part its success.

Next time your stick a QR code up somewhere, here are a few things to think about:

  • What does the end to end journey look like, is it consistent?
  • Is there a quicker alternative which is cheaper (less effort) for the user? Sometimes its better to stick up a short url which a user can type into their mobile browser. Its quicker than firing up a QR code reader app, scanning the QR code, and then waiting for browser redirect.
  • Does your QR code link to a mobile friendly browser page? When was the last time you scanned a QR code on a laptop or desktop?!!

QR codes provide a great way of connecting your physical and digital world, of course MVS is an equally compelling alternative. But MVS is still developing, QR code is a cheap and easy alternative.

To use or not to use? Well, that depends on where, when and how. Sticking a QR code into a banner ad on the train station, does not make it any more likely someone will visit your site than putting a URL on it. The key is to flip and think from the user experience point of view and what you are going to achieve by incorporating QR codes.

Do you know of other examples of how QR codes have been used in a seamless way like the Tesco virtual stores in Korea? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!