How do we structure our communication agency partnerships for social?

Some of the biggest changes to the marketing industry since the 1960s are upon us and organisations now have to make difficult decisons about the best way to run their activities. TV changed everything so we shouldn't be too surprised that the Internet, a far more pervasive technology, refuses to be contained by traditional structures. David Ogilvy was never too sure if TV advertising was going to work. He thought someone would figure out how to make money from it in the ad industry but that it wouldn't be him. David Ogilvy was right. 

It used to be easy. Cut the marketing budget into an advertising agency, throw some to the PR agency and use the rest to sponsor a few sports teams and a couple of conferences. The client-side team structures are arranged by product or by brand channel and everyone marches along nicely and completes an annual marketing plan.

We now have to ask some questions like:

  • Do we need a fulltime agency? What do they do and what do we do?
  • Why are we buying media? Should we be making our own media? Should we have a newsroom and a newsreader-type person?
  • How do we hire and manage the most skilled people when we don't have the skills ourselves? How do we assess what a good mobile-first strategy is when we've never done one? 
  • How do we make sure we have the best technology for the future when we don't have knowledge about what the 'best' even is?

If it all seems a bit confusing then you are probably on the right track. Just take a look back to the influential management article 'The Nature of the Firm' by RH Coase from 1937.

"Apart from variations in the supply price of factors of production to firms of different sizes, it would appear that the costs of organising and the losses through mistakes will increase with an increase in the spatial distribution of the transactions organised, in the dissimilarity of the transactions, and in the probability of changes in the relevant prices. As more transactions are organised by an entrepreneur, it would appear that the transactions would tend to be either different in kind or in different places. This furnishes an additional reason why efficiency will tend to decrease as the firm gets larger. Inventions which tend to bring factors of production nearer together, by lessening spatial distribution, tend to increase the size of the firm.

Changes like the telephone and the telegraph which tend to reduce the cost of organising spatially will tend to increase the size of the firm. All changes which improve managerial technique will tend to increase the size of the firm" p 397. 

Run that by me again?

“efficiency will tend to decrease as the firm gets larger. Inventions which tend to bring factors of production nearer together, by lessening spatial distribution, tend to increase the size of the firm.

Changes like the telephone and the telegraph which tend to reduce the cost of organising spatially will tend to increase the size of the firm. All changes which improve managerial technique will tend to increase the size of the firm."

So what he's saying is

  • The bigger you get, the more inefficient you get
  • Inventions and technology increases the size of the firm, thus increasing inefficiency
  • To combat the inefficiency, you improve managerial technique
  • Improved managerial technique increases the size of the firm
  • Rinse and repeat

So the answer then is the startup right? Spin it all off.  Move to smaller structures for organising resources. However, the advantage of the startup is invention and efficiency. Both of these factors lead to growth and hence, inefficiency, so you’re actually on the same wheel according to Coase. Eventually you will have to loop around and make decisions about how resources are structured and directed. The organising mechanisms will need to be in place whether the activity takes place in your company or outside in an agency. At what stage do you start to build client-side capability and learn the new methods? 

The article summarises this relationship by stating that we "thus have a theory of moving equilibrium...the question always is, will it pay to bring an extra exchange transaction under the organising authority.” 

In simple english, should we be doing this or should we be getting someone else to do it? It is the problem of management to be solved so don't feel you're not making progress if you have some frustration and reservation about the way your marketing activities are structured. Keep having the difficult discussions because, if Mr Coase is correct, then you are trying to achieve an equilibrium and not a perfect, static solution in your organising authority (marketing team) and new technologies will keep shifting the balance. It's just change management I guess.  

The Nature of the Firm-full article pdf

David Ogilvy: A conversation about advertising-video

How do marketers actually campaign in real-time?

So we talked a little bit last time about centralised marketing models and how we can start to break down ‘digital’ and ‘non-digital’ marketing approaches. Remember that good marketing thinking is still at the centre, we just have new technologies now to reach customers more effectively. But what do we actually do? How do we start working in this way? Let’s walk through a real-time campaign using a classic marketing tool: coupons. 

Do you remember Susan? Susan is a new employee we featured in Panda Weekly. Here's a selfie from her trip to China last year. 

Customer: Susan Bamboo Corp-Thursday 8am Sydney
Susan is a busy working panda in Australia. She gets up in the morning and checks her email on her iPhone. She then catches the train to work and checks her Pandabook on mobile and reads some news on Weibo. Susan speaks English and Mandarin Chinese. 

At work, she is mainly on desktop and keeps a few social tabs open to listen to music on Pandaora and see what’s happening on Pandabook. She checks her email throughout the day on both mobile and desktop. Susan was meant to go to the gym tonight and do Body Jam but she needs to buy some Christmas presents so she is going to the shopping centre after work. Susan received an email from Target that there is 30% off children’s toys and she heard from her friend Julian at work there is free gift wrapping at the shopping centre until 10pm. Susan and Julian are going to catch the bus to the shopping centre after work, have some dinner and do some shopping. 

Now let’s say you are the marketing person for a coffee retailer called CoffeeWorks. 

Business objective: CoffeeWorks
-It’s Christmas and you have a number of coffee shops in shopping centres throughout the region 
-The Asia Pacific marketing hub for CoffeeWorks is in Singapore and they service Australia, Hong Kong and Malaysia
-All of the other retailers and the centre management are running promotions and foot traffic is up
-There are a number of food and coffee places in the shopping centres and we want to make sure that customers come to CoffeeWorks 
-Sales projections show that the next two weeks are going to be busy and we want to take share off Starbucks

CoffeeWorks HQ Singapore Thursday 9am (12pm Sydney)
Marketing have prepared a weekly promotional content calendar shared across the region but it’s not strong enough. Point of sale data is showing store sales are down and store operations are seeing heavy promotional activity from their competitor Starbucks. You need to get some deals in the market ASAP to convert the Christmas foot traffic into sales. You don’t have time or budget to go to an agency and prepare additional Christmas materials so you will need to work with what you have and get smarter on the promotional mechanics. The deal will need to work on mobile and be redeemed via mobile instore as marketing don’t have time to print and ship items to store level. 

The CoffeeWorks PandaBook page admin panel is showing a post that had high engagement at 11.4% compared to the average 3.35%

It’s a simple, BOGOF coupon (buy one, get one free) that was made for a store opening in Singapore but it can be easily modified on Adobe Photoshop to work for Australia, Hong Kong, and Malaysia. One of the marketing team does the copy change-outs for the regions while the head of marketing gets the deal approved by store operations on the company internal messaging tool: Jammer. Some of the store ops team think it isn’t ‘Christmassy’ enough and want something that looks more like Starbucks. The marketing manager explains that you don’t have time and not to worry too much about the artwork. The deal mechanic is solid and customers will be drawn by a ‘free coffee’ headline on the promotional messaging. The deal will need to go at midday in Singapore to get the late night shopping in Australia. 

CoffeeWorks notify the other regions that the BOGOF deal is coming and they schedule posts across email, PandaBook,Tumblr, Twitter and their company blog. The same coupon artwork from the Singapore store opening will feature in the posts and the offer is optimised to the channels. Coffeeworks doesn't robo-post across channels because they understand that different channels have different customers and apps work differently- the Twitter version will be 140 characters with the attached coupon whereas the Tumblr version will have more copy. Country markets modify the channels to their languages and local audiences. CoffeeWorks are testing mobile push notifications and will also be running the deal to their own company mobile phone numbers to test some new software -it’s not ready for customers yet. The Malaysia marketing person has noticed that head office forgot to do a Malay language version for Malaysia but they can do that later- the priority is Australia as they don't want to miss a trading day. 

Customer Susan Bamboo Corp- Thursday 3pm Sydney

At 3pm, Susan checks her PandaBook tab and sees that her friend Ling Ling has shared a free coffee voucher from a new coffee chain called CoffeeWorks. She Googles their business listing and sees they have a store on level two of the shopping centre she is going to after work. Susan ‘likes’ CoffeeWorks and reshares the post to her followers. She screenshots the voucher and shares it on her internal work Jammer account so Julian and her other colleagues can use it too.  

Customer Susan Shopping Centre-Thursday 6pm Sydney

At 6pm, Susan and Julian catch the bus to the shopping centre. They want to beat the crowds so decide to get their free coffee first and redeem the mobile voucher in store. The Coffeeworks store employee doesn’t know about the offer so Susan shows him the Pandabook update on her iPhone and he checks it against his company Jammer account. Susan and Julian get their free coffee and CoffeeWorks get their customer to transact. Susan checks into CoffeeWorks on Pandabook, tags Julian and uploads a photo of her ‘free’ coffee saying that it’s 'great coffee' and that she’s Christmas shopping and it gets 20 likes. 

What can we learn from the CoffeeWorks campaign?

1.Marketing showed leadership and didn't panic when sales disagreed with the creative or when the Malaysian language version wasn't ready on time. They could cover the main activity through centralised systems to achieve scale, and then deal with the exceptions

2.Marketing saw their scheduled activity wasn't strong enough and changed their plan based on store data

3.CoffeeWorks used solid retail marketing concepts (coupons and BOGOF) and modified them using new tools and channels (Pandabook, mobile)

4.Timing is everything and they had the agility to meet a three-hour deadline using existing marketing assets that were optimised for local markets

5.Marketing understood their data and their customer type and knew that a strong, simple offer, delivered in the right context would appeal and increase the probability that fans and followers would transact into sales from pandas like Susan

6.Internal communications on Jammer enabled online and offline activities to work together so that store level employees closest to the customer were kept informed and Susan could redeem her coupon

7.Susan shared the offer through her personal channels because it was a strong offer and it was easy to redeem through a simple coupon, not because of fancy Christmas creative. CoffeeWorks had a generous offer and Susan responded by happily promoting the company. 

Moving to a centralised demand model of marketing

Think about the structure and main responsibilities of your marketing team. If you were to jot down the main things your marketing executives do it will be something about managing agency partners, developing and executing strategic campaigns to drive sales activities, something about brand and a little bit on team management. 

Now look at this magnificent creature:

In a centralised demand model, scale is achieved by focusing on the process of best serving the customer using marketing technologies. 

The main role of the marketer is to create the environment, processes and performance models and activate them across the organisation. It is a very technology-centric and data-centric approach.

What's the most exciting thing I find about this model?

There is no differentiation between online and offline marketing

Campaigns and tactics are executed at the business unit level on different channels but the thinking and processes are aligned at the top-level so scale and consistency is achieved and can be measured. 

If the idea of moving your organisation to this type of model is terrifying and seems impossible then congratulations, you have just mentally arrived at the future of marketing and social media management for enterprise. As fun as it is to talk about connected watches and viral videos, putting the infrastructure and systems in place to manage new forms of customer data and designing teams around them is the hard part. 

If you don't know where to start can I suggest the first step is to put your attention into learning about enterprise systems, designs, tools and technologies. It will no longer be the role of the 'online analyst' or the 'interactive digital integrated whatever you want to call it'. This is marketing. 

Step back from creative and agency level production thinking for a little while. Give it to someone else to do. Get up out of the tactical, campaign-level work and shift your brain into organisational design mode instead of creative design mode. You're going to need to know this stuff. 

Think beyond your current organisation structure. Decide what works best, not what retrofits to your current structure because there will be changes- regardless of whether your current marketing regime can see it yet or not. The model above is for B2B so it would play out slightly different into consumer but you get the idea. 

Find a company that is moving to centralised marketing systems and befriend them. Go out for coffee with their people and find out what is and isn't working. You are about to be bombarded with sales pitches from technology vendors, research agencies and implementation partners so find like-minded people and compare notes. Unilever has just moved 7000 marketers in 190 countries to a centralised platform so befriend someone from Unilever and see what they think of it. Adobe, Salesforce, Oracle and IBM all have current marketing suite offers at various stages of maturity. Expect other vendors to appear in this space. 


Global versus local Facebook pages: Starbucks APAC

Architecting global social media activity can be challenging and people inevitably want to know if they should split out account activity by local markets. 

I'm just looking through an APAC report on Starbucks Facebook page performance and thought this slide really summarises what the main issue is. 

-Local content, when done well and supported in market, receives higher engagement. 

-The more customised the content, the more work required from marketing. Benefits of scale may be lost. 

-If the pages aren't resourced and properly managed, it can lead to customer service issues

The balance needs to exist between marketing messaging and customer care. Both need to work together. Too much customer care messaging and the pages can become dry and lose engagement. Audiences don't grow and the Facebook walls look negative. Remember: it's the attention economy so you need energetic, audience building content and mechanics running. Deals, free giveaways, fun photos of people and live events. The customer care messages don't have to be answered straight away (within 24 hours is a general guideline), but customers do need to be acknowledged. 

Virtual team models with multiple users on enterprise publishing tools ensure coverage of markets and scale objectives are met. In this example, Starbucks Philippines has a large fan base of 1,540,058 users (Sept 23-Oct 23 2013) and is struggling to manage social care. Starbucks Vietnam is achieving the highest page growth numbers (9.5%) but is unable to achieve a 60% response rate to questions. Perhaps Australia and Singapore can assist during the growth period and peak seasonal times? More resourcing and/or efficient processes to work at that scale are needed. Where is the most efficient place to serve information from for time zones, language requirements and market objectives?Can we provide frequently asked question information in a centralised place such as forums so we don't have to answer so many one-to-one questions? Can analytics reporting happen in a central hub so that all the markets are receiving standard data and insight for regional and global reporting? Can images be stored centrally and customised for local activity? 

New marketing software products make it a lot easier to work virtually so now, you don't all have to be in the same office or even in the same country and the social care components work a lot more seamlessly. 

Data: SocialBakers Starbucks in Asia Pacific Region

The State of Social Business: Make it Scale

Most effective Facebook tactics for marketers

ExactTarget have just released their latest report detailing marketers’ top objectives for audience growth across email, Facebook, Twitter, SMS, and mobile apps. 

The 'Subscribers, Fans and Followers' report breaks down tactics most effective and is worth a look for ideas on new ways you could be using channels and to refresh your online publishing. It’s easy to get stuck doing the same things so mixing it up and trying some new approaches might assist you to get more cut through as the volume of activity builds through Christmas.

I’ve just pulled out the Facebook tactic graph as I thought it shows some interesting ‘quick wins’ that you can take with your brand. The chart shows use versus perceived effectiveness (note-perceived not measured). 

For example, ‘Publicly answering customer service questions on Facebook’ shows 34% of marketers using but 69% of those who have used it, deeming it effective. Could this mean that your Facebook channel is too broadcast and not driving enough engagement? Of course, you need to make strategic decisions around which channels you will support for customer care resource but perhaps you could take some frequently asked questions out of your support forums and proactively drive conversations on Facebook?

'Work with influencers/bloggers to promote Facebook Page’ is another area which should be getting more traction, especially if you are using external public relations companies to assist with media and influence. The numbers look similar into Twitter tactics on page 18 of the report. ‘Work with influencers/bloggers to promote Twitter’ only shows 28% use which surprised me. Is marketing briefing the on-account team to tag and identify influencers and collect information about their blogs and topics they are conversant on? Are your public relations team still only contacting traditional media and not capturing community influencers through press releases and offline events? Are they commenting on blogs and other people’s pages and social links or just sending batch emails and expecting favourable brand engagement?

Have a look through and see how it compares to the strategies and tactics you are using to grow and transact through quality audiences on and offline. 

Full report

Social Media Statistics Australia – September 2013

1. Facebook – 12,000,000 monthly Australian users (see here further details)
2. YouTube – 11,750,000 UAVs
3. – 5,100,000
4. Tumblr – 4,200,000
5. LinkedIn – 3,400,000
6. Blogspot – 3,200,000
7. Twitter - 2,167,849 Active Australian Users (see previous calculation)
8. Instagram - 1,469,000 Active Australian Users (see previous calculation)
9. Flickr – 840,000
10. TripAdvisor – 830,000
11. Pinterest – 510,000
12. MySpace – 230,000
13. Yelp – 220,000
14. Reddit – 160,000
15. Google Plus – approx 75,000 monthly active Australian users (my estimation *revised*)
16. StumbleUpon – 73,000
17. Foursquare – 46,000
18. Digg – 33,000
19. Delicious – 25,000

Key Points to Note via David at Social Media News Australia

  • A trend we have noticed is that blogging platforms such as WordPress and Tumblr have really grown further in 2013.
    5 Million Australians visit blogs every month, and over 4 million visit Tumblr blogs. There seems to be a shift in users creating their own more professional style content off typical social media websites.
  • The other main networks of Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram continue to consume much of our social media time.

All stats represent the number of Unique Australian Visitors [UAVs] to the site over August – except for Facebook which is the number of active monthly users as reported by Facebook themselves).

What metrics do I use to measure tablet audiences?

Adobe have started releasing their new audience metrics for Digital Publishing Suite. While the reporting tools are obviously for their own software, the methodologies move us closer to industry standards in measuring digital audiences as part of the Digital Edition Standardisation Initiative (DESI).

Big publishers and media companies are the main users for DPS enterprise software, optimising and reporting for media agencies and ultimately, advertisers. 

So if you've produced an iPad edition of your publication Zoonooz, you can get closer to showing how many readers their are, how many times they've opened the app, how long they've spent on the app, and then a breakdown per reader. 

It may sound kind of simple but it's the standardisation race that's the most important thing to watch as media companies tend to massage audience figures to try and keep their dying print magazine titles afloat in the tablet promised land. 

Comscore launched it's Media Metrix multi platform product in March this year. Nielsen came out the following month with their online campaign ratings solution

There are various marketing materials and videos you can watch to see all the reporting tools and swizzy dashboards but I think the methodology document is a good place to start so you can understand how the audiences and measures are being defined before you watch yet another data visualization of people consuming data at different times of the day using multiple devices-yes we get it. 

I think it's a lot better if you can put on an advertiser hat and think "I'm a bank and I want to launch my new home loan product to first home buyers. What digital media products should I be advertising on for our tablet customers? Do our customers read Zoonooz? Should we run some ads in there? How do we know who is reading and what they're reading?"

Once you have the information that you need to see you then need to compare across other publications. How do they measure their audiences?  There's still a long way to go if we want a full view of individual customers (social data anyone?) but locking in the core digital audience borders and definitions is the best place to start. 

Here is the description of 4 Standard Audience Metrics on DPS Baseline Analytics (beta) portal:

Accumulated Readers
Shows total “unique” readers that are entitled to the folio, have downloaded the folio and opened it at least once.

Accumulated Sessions
Shows total sessions i.e. visits by readers that are entitled to the folio, have downloaded the folio and opened it at least once.

Accumulated Time Spent Per Reader
Shows average time spent in the folio per reader that is entitled to the folio, has downloaded the folio and opened it at least once.

Accumulated Sessions Per Reader
Shows average sessions per reader that is entitled to the folio, has downloaded the folio and opened it at least once.

The one advertising question you should never have to ask

Are we doing a brand ad or a product/price ad?

You should never have to ask that because the business objective and deal mechanic that you ultimately choose will answer the question for you. 

For example, let's say you have excess coffee plungers in stock that your Merchandise team need to sell. 

Problem:  Thousands of coffee plungers sitting in the distribution centre. 

Objective: Clear the coffee plunger stock. 

Background: We bought them because they were cheap but they are an ugly red color and didn't sell so get rid of the things because we need the room we've got more containers coming in. 

Pricing: We thought we'd get $15 but our competitors have them for $9 and their aren't as ugly as ours so just move them. 

Deal mechanic: Multi-buy 2-for deal. Try two for $10. Yes I know that's $5 but we need to get rid of them. Have you seen one? So ugly. 

Channel: Instore and online. No we're not putting ugly red coffee plungers on TV. We'll put them in the catalogue if there's nothing else by Wednesday. 

Location: Regional. Just put them in the big box stores. End of aisle cut-box display in an aisle of value or something like that. A big cut box display of ugly red cheap coffee plungers. Excellent. We're no shipping them around the country-we've spent enough money on them already. Ship them to the big stores in the 'burbs. 

Deal GP%: Don't care. Just get rid of them they are costing us more in storage and don't buy anymore of those ugly red things. We've lost money on them already. 

Creative: Clearance bargain shoppers. Big bang on the price and the multi-buy. Don't put the ugly red coffee plunger on there-nobody needs to see that.  Just use the template we used to get rid of those outdoor loungers with the teddy bear cushion covers. Lordy who bought those? 

Deliverables: 1 x AO instore poster, 1 x A2 instore poster, web banner medium rec and a clear cut of the ugly coffee plunger for the website. They can print them on the in store printers, that'll do. Chuck the clear cut in the 'hot deals' section on the website. 

Timing: They'll be in store tomorrow morning so we'll need something by the end of today (sound familiar?). 

So, are we doing a brand ad or a product/price ad?

Both. We are doing a product/price deal mechanic consistent with our company brand. Everything is brand. Call to action is to purchase the two for $10 deal. We're not going to create cute jingles and make dancing coffee plungers. The objective is to run-out stock so we're not going to spend a lot of time and money on artwork- there is no money in the deal.  We will use functional company branded templates and reuse existing artwork where possible. Attention comes from the runout pricing and cheap deal cues (aisle of value, hot deals section). 

The business objective answers the question for us. 

Australia Decides: The 2013 Social Media Elections

The team at Social Bakers flicked me through this infographic this morning so I thought I'd share it with you. 

The data is just Facebook so keep that in mind.

I asked them whether the naughty Twitter follower business in the Abbott camp had been controlled for. A 70k boost in Twitter followers over 12 hours is the type of insight benchmarking software won't pick up if you are looking at straight follower growth numbers so that's why you always need humans checking. I quite like some of the Google Hangout stuff that Fairfax Sydney Morning Herald has been doing with the politicians and hopefully we'll see more of that in future government communications. 

My introduction to footwear retail

Let me tell you about Angela and my introduction to footwear retail. 

She was the area manager where I worked. A shoe shop in a shopping centre. It was my student summer job and she was super organised. She looked after about 15 retail stores. All women employees. Some full-timers and some part-timers like me who did the late nights and Christmas holidays. Angela was terrified of the point-of-sale computer system and she always told me off for fiddling around with the settings and using the mouse. We weren't supposed to use the mouse. The mouse was 'hidden' down the back of the computer and we were only supposed to use the keyboard (I'm still not entirely sure why). POS/2000-that was the name of it and I would pull the mouse out and click on all the drop-downs and she would panic as if a bomb was about to go off. 

Bomb scares aside, Angela was probably one of the best people managers I've ever worked with. She had this rule when you started that everybody had to get along. 

"Nobody says a single bad word about anybody else. Do you understand that? No gossip. No backstabbing. We all have to work here and get along so we only say nice things about each other."

And do you know what? That's exactly how it was. Women in a retail store doing midnight closes and changing rosters and putting Hush Puppies on old ladies feet all happily getting along and saying nice things about each other.  Angela understood the power of unity and the cancer of gossip and her little pep talk at the start, said once, made all the difference and I loved working there. 

That was my introduction to footwear retail.