MarketEd.Live 2018: the future of marketing is personal

People should be at the heart of marketing. That’s the key message from speakers at MarketEd.Live 2018, which took place at Nottingham Contemporary on September 25. Sounds obvious doesn’t it? As host Paul Ince said when he kicked off the event: “What is marketing if it’s not people talking to people?”

So perhaps I should rephrase that intro. ‘Other people’ should be at the heart of marketing. Or, remember: it’s not about you.

Paul Ince on stage at MarketEd.Live

We want to make purchases we choose to make. We want to find information out in our own time and in our own way. And we want to feel that people are taking the time to talk to us as individuals, not hailing us with a loud speaker. Your customers want that too.

What does personalised marketing look like?

There were various examples of a personalised approach to marketing in action. Paul shared details of open rates from the various methods he had used to promote MarketEd.Live during his talk on the future of marketing.

Paul Ince talks about open rates on stage at MarketEd.Live. Copy of tweet by Tim Lewis.

Now apart from showing how brilliant at marketing Paul is (industry average open rate 25% and click through rate 3.69% – look how much higher his results are!) these results show how a more personalised approach got more engagement.

OutreachPlus create personalised email outreach campaigns. MarketEd.Live used the Messenger Bot to answer people’s questions on the website – including where Paul gets his shoes. The team didn’t just program it with the basic questions they thought people would ask, they had some fun and made it human. They also thought about the points in the conversation when the chatbot needed to hand over to a real person.

The last item on the list is Bonjoro. If you don’t know what that is (I didn’t) it allows you to send personalised video responses to people who sign up to your mailing list. And delegates love it! These personal messages from Paul got a 75% open rate and a 32% click through rate.

Now if that doesn’t earn a marketing bear hug I don’t know what does!

My key takeaways: empathise, listen and be social

Businesses are not in control of how customers find them. There is so much information out there and people are on so many different platforms at different times.

Ross Davies, Managing Director of Strafe Creative, brought this home by asking where people go to look for somewhere to eat out in a new city. There were lots of answers including:

  • Ask Google
  • Go to Tripadviser
  • Talking to locals
  • Looking on Instagram

He brought the message home with this slide: “There is no single set place to gain an opinion or information any more.”

Chris Marr on stage with a slide asking: What is disparate information?'

Does this mean businesses don’t stand a chance at getting in front of people? No.

There are lots of ways you can make marketing work for your business. But for me it means you need to do 3 things:

  1. Think like your customers – empathise
  2. Don’t interrupt people: be part of what they are doing instead – listen and add value
  3. Be sociable – have conversations

These are my key takeaways from MarketEd.Live. Other people’s needs, wants and values are at the heart of all three.

The zero moment of truth

You need to think like your customers if you are going to get in front of them. You need to know what motivates them. What are their needs and wants? What is happening in their world? Empathy is crucial.

We are in the age of the “research-obsessed consumer”, Chris Marr told us. We all hop online when we want to do something now. Whether we are looking to buy a new moisturiser (yes, really) or are looking for a big ticket item. We do our research online, check what’s out there, ask questions, find out prices, choose what we like. And then we go and buy it.

This is the ‘zero moment of truth’. Chris revealed that 70% of buying decisions are made online before first contact. To succeed you need to give the customer what they want before they know that you have the solution they are looking for.

So what do you need to do?

Become the Wikipedia of your industry

You need to show your expertise and be the online authority on your subject. As Chris says, you need to become the Wikipedia of your industry.

Chris spoke about family-run shed company Gillies and Mackay and how by thinking through all the questions a buyer would have, managing director Cara Mackay had made their site the go-to place to learn about buying a shed. Not only does she talk about her sheds, but she reviews their competitors. Why? Because their customers will be.

He cited Marcus Sheridan’s book They Ask You Answer and said there are five key areas you need to cover:

  • Price
  • Problems
  • Reviews
  • Benefits
  • Competition

Don't disrupt or interrupt

Do you fast forward adverts? Or go and do something else when they appear? Of course you do.

Howard Jones from EE showed this graph of what happens during half-time during a football match:

Howard Jones shows the social media profile of a football match.

He talked about how people love to share experiences. They want to share their view of the match, what they got up to at a festival, and what they think about the issue of the day. It’s their experience that matters.

He asked: “What can you do to put your brand in their content?”

One company which knows all about how to do this is Fanbytes, which works with brands and influencers to reach younger audiences. They create adverts Snapchat users are happy to embrace rather than skipping by. They do this by using ‘advertainment’. Advertainment = ads + entertainment + emotion.

They think about content which people want to have as part of their lives. An example of this is the campaign they ran with Deezer where they created an AR lens of a boombox and encouraged people to use it. They had 1.1 million views in 24 hours.

CEO Timothy Armoo said: “Rather than disrupting what people are interested in, why not just be what people are interested in.”

What is your customer's key concern?

This empathetic approach was used to good effect by Loughborough University in their award-winning Golden Ticket campaign.

Emma Leech, Director of Marketing and Advancement at Loughborough University, explained how they talk to students trying to choose which university to go to and understand their emotional journey. Understandably a key concern for teenagers studying away from friends and family is: “Will I fit in?”

Loughborough uses the hashtag #LboroFamily and as part of this they sent golden tickets (think Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) to students who had won a place. Students shared pictures of themselves and the campaign drove £4.6m in additional income by tapping into the excitement of results day.

Be part of the community

Being part of a community, adding value, cheering people on and generally being a sociable human being was at the heart of Chris Strub’s closing keynote address. Chris volunteered with youth-related organizations in all 50 states of America in 2015 and shared his experiences on social media, showing how community groups could get more coverage.

He offered a series of lessons which rounded off a conference all about people perfectly. We all need to show up, be human, get to know each other and share. We all belong to lots of different communities, online and offline. Being an active part of these communities matters.

Here are the lessons and ideas he shared:

  • Set impossibly big goals – what does success look like?
  • Be humble, authentic and influenceable. Chris said: “If you think you have it all figured out, you’re wrong.” Who are the five people you look up to and can learn from?
  • “You are not going to become a leader until you are a great follower.”
  • Celebrate the wins of your colleagues.
  • Think about how you bring value in the comments. I love this one! I recently did Seth Godin’s altMBA and thinking about the value you give to others, pushing them on to dig a little deeper is a key part of the experience.
  • Be platform agnostic. Now this one is interesting. Chris shares things he has seen on Instagram with people on Twitter and vice versa. He spreads the conversation to other spaces and brings new people into it.
  • Listening and engagement are more important than creating content. Chris quoted Chelsea Peitz who said: “Stop contenting and start commenting.”
  • Chris live tweets the podcasts he is listening to. Again, he’s taking ideas and sharing them with a wider audience and creating conversations.
  • Demonstrate gratitude. How often do you say thank you for people’s input?
  • Take part in #videoreplyday. This is on Tuesdays. Instead of replying to tweets with a tweet or a gif, turn your camera on and record your response. You’ll find yourself having conversations with all kinds of people.
  • Collaborate generously. I love this one too. There are so many ways we can all work together to create great things.
  • Respect everyone else’s journey.

I can’t wait to go to Marketed.Live again next year. Tickets are on sale now. I’m feeling inspired and have lots of ideas for things I want to do. I hope this blog post has inspired you too.

Please let me know in the comments what you’re going to do next as a result of reading it or if you went to MarketEd.Live tell me what your key takeaways were and what you’re going to do.

Rachel Extance (photo by Jemima Willcox)

Rachel Extance helps businesses tell their story. A professional journalist, she knows how to write stories people find relevant and engaging. Rachel now helps businesses create communications strategies and write content which helps their customers and lets them see behind the scenes. She is also available for 1:1 consultations, training and public speaking opportunities. If you would like to know more email her rachel@extance.co.uk or contact her on social media.

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