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Earlier this week, I spoke at a Voluntary Sector Disability Group event, talking to senior marketing professionals from the third sector about brand integration in the digital age.

During the afternoon, we examined the noisy, modern-day world in which we all, as marketeers operate, which has largely come about from the largest platform shift (from TV and radio to smartphone and tablet) in generations.

We then looked at the impact that all this noise has on our customer, who is more inundated with marketing messages today than ever before. And finally, we discussed the new rules of customer engagement, in using the momentum of the empowered customer.

I’ve listed below the five take home recommendations from my talk.

If anyone is interested in seeing the full script and presentation, feel free to get in touch on ian.sykes@438marketing.com

1. Tell your Story

What is your organisation’s story?

We looked at an abridged version of Simon Sinek’s TED talk on The Golden Circle, otherwise know as Start With Why – I’ve included links below.

This underlined the importance of why do we do what we do, and asked the question ‘why should the customer care?’. The point being that if a charity can’t get this right internally (everyone from your CEO to your work experience kid should be able to answer this) then chances are your ‘target market’ will also struggle. Remember that the why of a third sector organisation is so much more powerful that an FMCG brand or B2B proposition – you’re making the world a better place.

Be clear on what your story is, and figure out the most effective way to tell it. How can you best tell your story to succinctly, highlighting the values that your target audience will identify with and co-promote.

Then figure out where the best place is for you to tell your story. Which leads us onto point number 2…

2. Be media agnostic

This year saw digital marketing spend outweigh traditional offline spend for the first time.

Now I believe there’s still a place for TV and radio advertising, and we still advise clients to advertise in the press, or use outdoor where we see it as appropriate. But if you are going advertise in print or outdoor, do it because it’s going to deliver something that you can’t achieve through digital.

In some instances, it’s clear that your campaign will be digital, and nothing else. Even then, don’t make your mind up that LinkedIn, or Facebook, or Instagram is the channel for you and that nothing else matters.

We should now regard social media as we used to regard TV channels. So we should be aware of the audiences Facebook, Snapchat Pinterest etc offer. We should view these as we might view audiences of ITV, Channel 4 or Sky News.

We should also be familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of each medium.

For example, Twitter is great for linking digital activity to a live event (see Moment Marketing, point 4. below) through effective use of the #hashtag. But because it doesn’t use an algorithm on its main feed, it shows me everything from everyone I follow. So if I follow lots of people, my feed is to noisy and I’m less likely to engage.

Facebook and Instagram on the other hand, both use algorithms which are geared up to show me the sort of stuff I’ve been liking and sharing. And so they deliver a more valuable feed to me. A more valuable feed to the user is a more valuable to you as a marketeer.

3. Respect your audience

This is particularly relevant when using social media. Today’s customer doesn’t want to be sold to, today’s customer wants to buy.

I understand very well the pressures on charities to succeed in fundraising, but it’s important to grow your audience by giving great content. Make your values clear. Remember the telling of your story – make it interesting, engaging, shareable.

Using images and videos mean audiences are 10X more likely to engage with your blog or social content.

And remember that people that sell, sell, sell on social media lose followers. That’s a fact.

Digital entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuck encourages people to jab, jab, jab, hook. Content, content, content, sell.

4. Consider moment marketing

Moment marketing is the term given to linking digital activity to offline events such as a sport event, musical event, or a TV programme. It’s becoming increasingly popular and can be highly effective.

It’s also a great way to engage people, as people these days prefer EXPERIENCES over THINGS. They want to do cool stuff, important stuff, generous stuff or fun stuff. And they want to tell other people about it through social media.

This huge cultural shift leads to behavioural economics. If we can provide our customer with an experience that they have a deep and emotional connection to, they will want to tell people about it.

So give people something to shout about. Prostate cancer UK do this brilliantly with Movember.

5. Take digital seriously

Don’t have your ‘digital guy’ sat in the corner, working on his / her own. Make sure your digital activity is integral to your brand activity.

Make a real effort to keep up-to-speed with different aspects of social media – demographics, usability, technical constraints and so on. If your organisation isn’t on the ball here, chances are your competitor will be…

Remember that we’re living in a world of evolving media. And it’s evolving fast. Be aware that the next big thing might be just around the corner, and could present a real opportunity.

A good example here is Facebook Live – launched just three weeks ago, and already brands such as Dunkin’ Donuts, Benefit and Air B&B are running great looking campaigns on it. To take a look at what these brands and others are up to with Facebook Live, check this out: http://bit.ly/21zjqdD

One final point. I know and understand that this requirement to take digital seriously can be a daunting one to some people.

But to those people I say; please, DON’T WORRY ABOUT MAKING MISTAKES.

EMBRACE DIGITAL, HAVE FUN, MAKE A FEW MISTAKES, and LEARN from those MISTAKES. And ENJOY YOURSELVES AS YOU GO.

Useful links:

Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle

http://bit.ly/1fQ1qY0 (full version, 18 mins)
http://bit.ly/2fYRnSR (short version, 3 mins)