…It’s another angle on what John Willshire discusses in his series of presentations on the idea of “fracking the social web“. The race for Likes and shares and and views leaves depleted culture and relationships in its wake.
…This connects with why at Brilliant Noise we’ve talked more about earning advocacy than earning media, or even earning attention. The media’s not the point, the customer is… and they couldn’t give a fig for brands, most of the time.
A lovely article by Jessica E Lessin, the founder of subscription-only tech news site The Information describes how a tight customer focus and and prioritising quality content over quantity helps build and audience.
There’s lessons here for brands in any sector:
We believe the best way to build a brand is to be indispensable to some people, rather than try to appeal to everyone. The business model aligned with that mission is a subscription business where our only incentive is to write articles our customers want so badly they are willing to pay for them.
This echoes Cynthia Montgomery’s advice in The Strategist, that if your company has a strong strategy it would be missed by its customers if it were to disappear overnight.
An insistence on creating a premium service creates a strong business model and value that goes beyond financial returns:
One benefit of the model is it helps build our revenue quickly. But a far more important outcome is that it puts the focus exclusively on high-quality, original journalism. In the world of ad-supported media, traffic volume is everything. Too often that means sacrificing quality for quantity and prioritising stories that generate clicks. In the subscription world, quantity doesn’t move the needle. Quality does.
If our machines are there to help us think, the last thing you want is everyone thinking in the same way, with the same tools. You just end up scaling flaws and narrow thinking and myopia along with all the efficiencies of scale.
You need standards and interoperability and APIs and all that. But too many apps? That’s just complexity-denial, wishing away diversity for the sake of a neat-looking IT infrastructure.
More people using more apps, that sounds like a company where digital transformation is really taking hold. A plurality of software, not a mechanised monoculture.
Most predictions and trends articles are glib headline-grabbers that cue clueless nodding, but no real grasp of what they mean (variations of “digital is over” or “Snapchat is the new Facebook”) or shallow and obvious (“wearables will be big” or “mobile is getting bigger”) – but Bob Greenberg of R/GA gets down to disruptive trends and what they will mean for the agency business in an piece for Campaign Brief Asia.
Here’s my re-mix/commentary on the five trends he mentions.
Clients will change their businesses to be less reliant on advertising. This is the crumbling of the pack ice beneath the feet of the old-model advertising. The more customer and innovation focused you are, the less important advertising becomes. The more you have in-house teams and tech for media buying, or put them under the supervision of editors, the less you need an ad agency.
Wearables (and other devices) have engagement built in… This is a much more useful train of thought than “how do I build me some wearables” (successor to the “how doI build me some apps/websites/microsites” impulses of old. What will be possible – not in the sense of Groupon tattoos that vibrate when there’s a two-for-one offer on in a nearby shop – in terms of how you engage with the customer.
Greenberg uses the example of R/GA client Nike’s Fuelband. I don’t have one, but I do sport a Jawbone Up and I can say that I check in and engage with that brand at least a few times a day as I log calories and check on progress. Up have earned (see below) my attention by being useful again and again. It’s an excellent app.
A much more expensive, advanced and yet less connected device – my DSLR camera – might get used a lot, but I never interact with that brand other than to subject myself to ten minutes painful form-filling to try and get the cash-back I was promised at point of sale. (The sales promotion is actually damaging my perception of the brand, feeling as I do now, a little bit conned.)
Similarly awful is the Blu-Ray Disc player and indeed disc, which every time I try to access services online with (say downloading the movie I have paid for as part of a triple-play offer disc from the company). I resent each poorly designed stage of the experience and each grubby grab for my personal data that is requested for the thing I have already paid for.
Both of the latter brands – Sony and Nikon, since you ask – appear to see digital, online, as a bit of promotion on top of their product. Jawbone and Nike see the digital experience as part of their product and an opportunity to bond with their customer.
Big data = earned data. Earned data is a lovely thought – you earn the right to gather customer data, both by implicitly by earning their attention and engagement and – esepcially as people begin to control more of their personal data – explicitly by asking for their trust both in your organisation and that giving you data will give them some value in return. Brilliant Noise’s second strategic pillar is “earn advocacy”.
Sustainability is growth. At Brilliant Noise we talk about long-term value as the focus for our work with clients. Sustainability isn’t something we have talked about in this context, but at a strategic and practical level, it needs to be part of the conversation. In fact, if it absent we aren’t really talking long-term at all.
Greenberg mentions the rejection of non-sustainable brands by millennial consumers. I’m not sure this is true, however much we wish it to be the case. Sustainability needs business leadership as much as it does consumer pressure on governments and corporations.
Nice idea from AXAPPP – Twitchoo – a map of how colds and other ailments are spreading across the UK.
A much more basic variation on the insight that Google had a few years ago – that the number of people searching for certain terms can predict where cold and flu outbreaks are about to occur. You can see that data at Google Flu Trends – although weirdly there is no UK data specifically available. Could this be because it has more commercial value there – advertisers willing to pay to know where they should be targeting their advertising and supply chains?
Although, given how many colleagues have been buffeted by colds over the past week, I’m surprised that East Sussex has “No Tweets” on their map today…
:: Also trying out embedding a Getty Images pic at the head of this post, since the firm launched this feature this week. Nice idea, although I do share the concerns of some about “link rot” that can happen when embedded content is changed or pulled.
So after failing completely to set up a Ghost blog on a server (not very technical, me) the hosted version is now available. Hurrah!
I’ve tried it out and set up a blog. It will be about running and will hopefully let me try out the platform and spare readers of this one endless details of training regimes, long runs in the rain etc.
I’ve been trying out Autographer, the clip on, wearable camera that automatically takes pictures as you are walking around. Here’s an effort from the other morning – walking to a meeting from Fiveways to the Lanes in Brighton.
It’s taking time to get to grips with using the camera well – as you can see, I’m not quite there yet. The trickiest thing seems to be getting it clipped on to clothes so that it has a good angle.
The videos knitting together images are fun, but there are few individual shots that are really nice.
It’s not really effortless – you have to download, edit etc. – and a lot of shots are poor, you need to take them out.
Also interesting is the perspective it gives you on privacy. Wearing an Autographer, you become a surveillance camera of sorts, mindful that you are recording, you turn for interesting views to capture them and feel awkward when you are around people. They may not know they are being photographed – in fact, they probably don’t. Does this matter in a public place, or are is it invasive?
An important part of the way we work at Brilliant Noise is “pilot and scale”. Find the best solution and then help grow it, spread its use.
Seems like common sense. Interesting, then, to read Johnnie Moore’s thoughts on an article about whether “scaling” is appropriate in some types of organisation, specifically NGOs involved in development.
… the concept of scaling has strong connotations of standardization. It has its origins in manufacturing, where the aim is to achieve economies of scale, by spreading fixed costs across more units of output. But in the messy social field, the potential for standardization is more limited. Here, concepts of reinvention and adaptation will be at least as important, if not more so, than standardization. Social outcomes are not products that can be easily made to formula and packaged. This is especially clear in the context of innovation in public services.
Could it also be the case for all kinds of organisations? Is this the kind issue that new “scaling” approaches like holacracy can avoid?
Certainly in a creative or ideas-based organisation, standardisation would be death. A successful project cannot be replicated, issued as a facsimile for all future challenges. Processes and principles and support systems can be, but using the “product” as a synonym for “service” is perhaps a symptom of a dangerous fantasy of standardising something of which you would never want a standard version.
Pilot and scale, prototyping and shipping – these are very useful ideas, but we should also consider their limits.