What No Celebrity Marketers?

Smarting at the lack of ‘celebrity marketers’ – here’s 2 we can adopt as our own.


OK – let’s be honest, marketers have not quite joined the ranks of celebrity chefs, interior designers, antiques valuers and other ‘experts’ that have carved out a niche on our television screens. Philip Kotler and perhaps Seth Godin are the closest we get but there’s a large swathe of our own fraternity that haven’t even heard of them (hence links supplied…).


However, there are 2 established experts in other fields who would qualify as ‘celebrity marketers’ who I’d encourage you to watch if you don’t already – Gordon Ramsey and Mary Portas.


Unwinding in front of More4 after a long day’s work, I’ve often been hynotised into a later bedtime then planned by the marketing nous Ramsey displays on “Kitchen Nightmares”.


I’m not a fan of the guy’s confrontational style, but his approach is always marketing-led. Understand the demographics and competitive offering in the locality and identify the gaps, combine that with the (sometimes hard to spot) strengths of the hapless restauranteur and you have a marketing strategy that gives them the best chance of success.


Mary “Queen of Shops” Portas is the same. She segments us all into fashion tribes, takes her time to understand what “tribes” are most prevalent in the troubled shop’s locality and then ‘tailors’ the shops offering to the most appropriate of them.


Gordon Ramsay Celebrity Marketer?

Gordon Ramsay - Celebrity Marketer?

Both have a deep understanding of their trade – be it Portas’s grasp of merchandising or Ramsey’s grasp of the commercial side of the restaurant business – but beneath that veneer of fashion and food lie the hearts of true marketers.


So rather than smarting at the lack of recognition the media gives to those of our craft, let’s adopt these 2 as our own and start looking down at those other professions (celebrity accountant anyone?) who have no entertainment value to exploit.

Back to Basics – Market Segmentation and Targeting

We all say we’re customer-centric, but we often forget what it means when the commercial pressure is on. Staying true to your marketing credentials is the best way to succeed when there’s pressure for results, with a dose of good old segmentation and targeting.


We’ve all fallen into the trap – we rush out of the trading meeting with a sense of purpose and urgency because we have bed nights/cabins/seats to shift or visitors to increase and start implementing a whole raft of activity without giving a single thought to what sorts of customers we’re going to ‘shift’ this product to.


To me, this is a sales mentality (give me the product and I’ll sell it to whoever) rather than a marketing one (who’s going to want to buy this product) and a surefire way to fritter your marketing budget away.


Market segmentation and targeting is right at the heart of marketing theory and practice so it’s worth going back to basics on this one. Let’s start with some definitions:


A market segment is a group of people or organizations sharing one or more characteristics that cause them to have similar product and/or service needs.”  (Source: Wikipedia)


“Targeting is the selection of the appropriate market segment(s) to direct your efforts towards and tailoring your mix as appropriate.” (Source: Me)


In addition to the shared characteristics, a market segment has to be actionable (you can reach these people) and profitable (otherwise why are you bothering).  Theory also states that the segment has to be substantial, but profitable would override substantial in my book as my work at the luxury end of the market has convinced me that they are plenty of profitable segments of one.


Segment characteristics i.e. those shared factors that bind a segment together and differentiate them from other segments, can be divided into 3 main groups:


  • Behavioural – product usage, benefit sought etc


  • Geo-demographics – where you live, occupation, socio-economic group, lifestage, ethnicity etc.


  • Psychographics – personality, values, attitudes, lifestyle etc.


My experience has taught me that the best segmentation models include a flavour of all 3 groups.


From a behavioural perspective, benefit sort and timing is important – our whole brand’s ‘raison d’etre’ should be focused around a benefit or benefits sort – a need or desire our offering is designed to serve.  Some marketers advocate stopping there when it comes to segmentation – I disagree.  Timing is also key – whatever anyone says about the demise of the 2 week break, the rise of the spontaneous short break etc, the timing of our breaks (and therefore the timing of their booking) is still largely predictable. And again, if we’re prepared to delve a little beyond the behavioural, a whole pandora’s box of opportunities can open up.


  • From a geodemographic perspective lifestage and geography are key – lifestage determines if they’re just thinking about themselves, trying to balance the needs of a partner or trying to keep the kids happy as well (and woe betide the marketer who lumps “married with kids” into one homogenous segment). For tourism attractions, geography determines catchment, and unless you’re located in one of the UK’s tourism hotspots, most visitors are going to sourced from the locality as defined by an acceptable journey time.


  • But it’s psychographics that interests me most, particularly how personality, values, personality and lifestyle are reflected in the desired level of cultural immersion – do your customers want to watch, get involved or get immersed. I’m convinced psychographics should play a key part in any travel or tourism segmentation model.


OK – I think that’s enough for starters. This is a complex subject so more articles on it soon.

BA’s Campaign Proves to Go Forwards You Sometimes Need to Look Backwards

I rather like British Airway’s ‘To Fly, To Serve’ campaign. As a marketer it appeals to me on several levels.


Firstly, it’s focusing on what is perceived as a core brand strength – service, delivered in a distincly British way. As BA’s MD of Brands and Customer Service, Frank Van Der Post, put it:


‘BA is a very strong brand. We do not need to reinvent ourselves as something else. What we need to do is to tell the story a little louder.’


Secondly, they’re backing words with actions – £5bn of investment in new aircraft, new cartering and new technology to enable their staff to deliver better service and their customers to better serve themselves (i.e. the ability to print their own luggage tags at the airport).


Thirdly, they’re involving their staff – which makes sense as your staff are at the core of any service proposition. Not only are they focusing aspects of the campaign on specific staff and their stories, but they clearly see re-instilling staff pride in the brand is as important as re-instilling our pride in the national flag carrier.  The ‘To Fly, To Serve’ positioning is not only something for staff to rally around, it’s a challenge they for them to live up to.


Fourthly (!?), the agency has had the courage to say something that’s already there will do the job rather than trying to be clever and inventing something new.  That’s brave, and it’s a bravery that many marketers don’t display in their haste to ‘put their stamp’ on the brand.


In ‘To Fly, To Serve’ BA’s agency, BBH  have unearthed and lovingly restored something right at the foundations of the brand – a bit like a marketing ‘Time Team’.  For me, it highlights we should all be great students of our brands – brand archaeologists, so to speak – as often we’ll need to look backwards to inspire our brands to go forwards.


When I was at Simply Travel, we didn’t need to look back that far but just glancing at the brochure covers from 5-10 years previously of women herding sheep in Crete reminded us that the core appeal of the brand was the ability to transport people to places from which they could enjoy their own authentic experiences. Our brand was more about the authenticity of a place than the facilities of the accommodation.


I should imagine that there are many travel brands out there that have lost their way – in the search for growth and new customers they’ve compromised the core essences of their brands. And if your potential customers start to get confused about what you stand for, your ability to command a premium erodes away.


I’m not saying travel companies shouldn’t innovate, but see your brand as a house. Make tasteful alterations to exterior and interior to bring it up to date, but don’t mess with the foundations otherwise you’ll bring the whole thing toppling down.


Six ‘Digital’ Resolutions for 2010

 Digital marketing is cost effective, measurable and the likelihood is you’re under-investing in it. Make sure you’re keeping an eye on what’s coming over the hill but don’t forget some of the more established digital disciplines.


You could argue that I’m writing this a little late in the year because, believe it or not, we’re already beyond the point when most people have lapsed in their commitment to a new lifestyle for a new year. I have to admit to having one foot in this camp myself as my resolution to blog once a week has already proved an abject failure.


Despite that, I did think it was still worth sharing a few ‘digital marketing’ resolutions for 2010 with you. Why only digital?  Well it’s where your customers are most likely to find you and engage with you, it’s highly cost effective and measureable and if you’re like most brands, it’s likely that you’re under-investing in this sector.  So here goes:


1. Invest in your Website, Invest in your Website, Invest in Your Website


Sorry to labour the point, but it makes sense that you’re going to get more ‘bang for your buck’ if you invest more in converting the people that are already coming to your site rather than trying to drive more of them to a site which isn’t working to the optimum.


Think long and hard about what purpose your site is there for and what sort of people are going to be using it.  With websites, less is often more and you need to resist the temptation to bombard users with navigation options and content that cater for their every possible need and whim but create a confusing experience for those trying to use the site for its primary purpose.


Pore over your analytics to see if your site isn’t performing as you envisaged – primary navigation not being used or pages featuring amongst the top exits when they shouldn’t, for example. Explore more rich media options such as larger images and video which can improve the ‘stickiness’ of your site. And continually gather feedback from all the company’s stakeholders, both internal and external.


2. Search is Still the Daddy


When was the last time you had a thorough review of your paid search campaign? When did you last review your keywords?  Do you have a least 3 creatives running at any one time on each ad group to continually test effectiveness? What about your natural search efforts?  Do you have a content strategy integrated with your search efforts?  Are you working on building your incoming links?


Digital Resolutions for 2010

Digital Resolutions for 2010

If you answer is ‘yes’ to all of those questions then my hat goes off to you, but the chances are that there are some ‘nos’ scattered in there. My point is that search is the ‘big daddy’ of online marketing and its still growing (UK searches in December ’09 were 35% up on December ’08).  So although you may have been distracted by the winsome looks of social media or mobile phone apps, you need to make sure you’re keeping on top of it. Or keeping on top of the agency that looks after it for you (time for a performance-based deal perhaps?)


3. Let’s Reverse Those Declining Open Rates


Do you actually know why your email subscribers have signed up for email?  And are you giving them what they want?  Are your email efforts one way style ‘broadcast’ communications or are you using them to engage with your customers? Are you treating your recent subscribers in a different way to your past subscribers?


Because email marketing is so cheap, the temptation is to blast everyone with everything, just in case. But you’ll achieve a much closer relationship with your customers if you ask them what they want and then deliver. Much like social media, email offers the opportunity to enter into conversations and you’ll get much better results if you take the time to engage with your audience.


4. It’s Social Media So Start Being Sociable


You wouldn’t have many friends left it you talked at them and never expressed an interest in them or listened to what they had so say, but a surprising number of brands take this approach to social media. One way  ‘brand to consumer’ communication is old fashioned marketing so start getting interactive. Search social media platforms to find out what people are saying and intervene if you can help. Get interactive with your followers, find out what they want from you, and then deliver. The time for ‘dabbling’ is over – set yourself clear goals for what you want to achieve and work out how you’re going to get there.


5. Keep an Eye on Mobile


Mobile is the new buzzword on the digital ‘fashion’ calendar following in the wake of social media in 2009 but just because its faddy doesn’t mean you should turn your nose up at it.  Smartphones and feature phones actually enjoy high levels of penetration – if you look at your own you’ve probably got internet access and even a couple of apps tucked away that you weren’t aware of – but the iPhone has changed the landscape simply because its users are just so active.


The main buzz revolves around apps and mobile advertising, with the former growing at an explosive pace and the latter being fuelled by high profile purchases of mobile ad networks by Apple and Google.  But don’t forget about mobile search, location-based services are offered on both Bing and Google, and whether having a website developed for mobile use (a bit of a nightmare given all those screen resolutions, operating systems and differing key functions) makes sense for your brand.


Don't Just Think iPhone

Don't Just Think iPhone

The question to ask yourself before you plunge in are are what are my target market using their mobile for, and what can I do for them that will be useful for them when they’re on the move?  For example, for city centre business hotels, a presence in mobile search and a mobile website could make sense – I could imagine a tech-savvy and PA-less businessman organising his hotel on the go between meetings. I could also imagine mobile websites for booking hotel facilities such as spas, room service and restaurant reservations when you’re there. By the same token, people on holiday might like to search for local attractions on their mobile device.


And don’t rule out mobile marketing if you target audience is not connecting to the internet on their mobile, which most aren’t. Old and enduring technologies, such as text, offer opportunities as well. Services such as TravelBuddy can add value to your clients when they’re away with you, and text based gaming can offer interaction at visitor sites and attraction for adults and children alike.


6. Keep on Top of Your Craft


I don’t care how you do it, twitter, RSS and/or email, but take the time to take in what’s happening in the world of digital. It’s moving so fast you need to keep on top of it. That’s not to say that you need to get carried away with it – your target audience’s attitudes, needs, motivations and behaviours should always be the filter you see these developments through – but unless you’re on top of what’s coming over the hill, you could miss a big opportunity that your competitors don’t.

In Praise of RSS – 11% of the Population Can’t Be Wrong

Sign up for Navigator Marketing RSS FeedsWhatever it stands for, it’s a peeRleSS tool for keeping on top of your marketing environment.


RSS is one of those technologies that until your try it out, you don’t really get your head round it.


It doesn’t help that no-one’s 100% sure what RSS means. I thought it meant “Really Simple Syndication” but then discovered some thought it stood for “Rich Site Summary”.


I was always told by web designers that we really ought to have a RSS feed on the site and would nod, agree and sign it off with only a partial understanding of what I’d signed up for.


Rather than write my own definition, let me defer to Seth Godin, the father of permission marketing:


RSS is just a little peep, a signal, a ping that comes from a favorite blog or site, telling your computer that it has been updated. If you have an RSS reader (and they’re free and easy, and two of the easiest live on the web so you don’t even have to install anything), whenever a blog is updated, it shows up in your reader and you can catch up on the news. If there’s nothing new, it doesn’t show up and you don’t have to waste time surfing around.”


In a nutshell, you can kiss goodbye to all those email updates that you signed up for in your “I must stay on top of my craft” phase and now have no time to read in your “I’m frantically busy” phase.


It takes a little time to set up as you’ll choose an RSS reader (I’ve downloaded FeedDemon but if your IT department are like Orwell’s Thought Police and don’t let you download your own software, use a browser-based one like Google Reader) have to subscribe to feeds from all those sites that you’ve registered to, but once its up, there’s no more email to clog up your inbox and the information is so much easier to manipulate.


You can tag items that you want to keep for future reference with a relevant tag name (e.g. social media, twitter, direct mail etc) and set up watches for particular words, be they your own company, a competitor or a particular topic.


I’m a convert, and so are about 11% of the population. In fact, if you count the newsfeeds that are available on social media applications such as FaceBook, and with operating systems such as Vista etc, many more of us are using them than that.


And it’s an excellent low cost, no hassle support to your Content Generation strategy to get that content out there.


And did I mention there’s an RSS feed on this site too…

Happy 10th Birthday to 100% Pure New Zealand

Hats off to Tourism New Zealand – their consistency has been rewarded.


Congratulations to Tourism New Zealand on their ‘100% Pure New Zealand campaign’.


100 Percent Pure NZ - 10 Years Old

100 Percent Pure NZ - 10 Years Old

OK – so it first launched 10 years ago but Tourism New Zealand has just been voted ‘best at destination branding’ during a survey of their peers by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation and European Travel Commission. ‘100% Pure New Zealand’ was the factor sited by their peers for the accolade.


I remember going to the launch at Vinopolis back in 1999 (showing my age…), a memorable event because Neil Finn of Crowded House played live, and I have to admit, I was a bit underwhelmed. It didn’t have the cleverness of the previous campaign – you remember, the one contrasting the stresses of London with the wavy green grass.


But sometimes us marketers are too clever for our own good and forget our target audience isn’t our peers.


“100% Pure New Zealand” is a simple but thoroughly researched and well thought through campaign that combines a clear brand strategy with great imagery and fantastic music. It gives a destination short on icons a clear, straightforward positioning, as relevant and appealing to audiences now as it was 10 years ago (and probably in 10 years time as well).


It struck me a while back that there’s much too much chopping and changing in the marketing profession. As each new Marketing Director comes in, they’re keen to make their mark and shake things up a bit – I’ve done it myself. New strategy, new campaign, new direction.


But people aren’t in the real world aren’t as intimately involved with our brand as we are. And neither do they get bored with something as quickly, because they’re not seeing it every day.  A consistent message delivered over a long period – as long as its consistent with brand’s essence – builds recognition, credibility and trust.


For example, I have no idea how long that Jack Daniels campaign has been running on the Tube but I recognise it instantly and often wander down the platform to stand opposite one because despite the campaign’s longevity, they’re always entertaining. In fact, over the years I’ve probably become a minor expert on whisky maturation and I don’t even drink the stuff.


And look at what that long running Patek Philippe campaign has done for them – from niche brand to the one of world’s most desired watches.


So when you’re starting in a new role, think twice before you dispense with the old campaign. It will mark you out as a considered individual, prepared to put ego to one side.


And if you do decide to make a change, just bear in mind that when you dispense with the bathwater, the baby just might go out with it too.

How Do You Solve the National Trust’s UGC Dilemna?

How does the National Trust ensure it’s new ‘User-Generated Content’ driven property websites are a success? It needs to take an integrated approach to the challenge. 
I was initially a little incredulous to read that the National Trust was in the process of creating over 300 sites but then of course it all made sense – one new, central National Trust site and one site each for its 300+ properties.

In fact, the challenge comes up front in the creation of the “hub” site and then the core template (or perhaps templates as one size may not fit all) for its property websites. Once these first few are out of the way, and we’re promised 6 property websites by the end of September and the new main site by the end of the year, the others should be, relatively, straightforward.


Anybody who has used nationaltrust.org.uk will not find it hard to understand why it needs an overhaul – a pleasing facade soon degenerates into navigation lists so long they disappear beyond the reaches of the scroll bar and there’s a distinctly disappointing lack of information once you do reach your destination.


I see 2 challenges:


1.  What Information to Release When – precisely what information do I need to make an informed decision about whether to visit somewhere, what information do I need when I get there and what information should be offered for a premium.  In effect, what do I put on the Trust website, what on the property website and what in a paid for guide.  It’s the same conundrum that newspaper publishers are wrestling with in terms of what should be free and what will people pay for .


National Trust To Launch 300+ Property Websites

National Trust To Launch 300+ Property Websites

2.  Encouraging involvement so the user-generated side of the property sites actually has user generated content on there – I think this is a laudable aim. It chimes directly with the Trust’s desire to build an ongoing dialogue with its members and visitors but it’s in danger of falling flat on its face unless some real effort is put into it by supporting this intiative with other marketing disciplines i.e. some good old integrated marketing. For example:


  • Internal marketing to volunteers – who’ll not only be an important source of UGC themselves, and will    be key in ‘getting the ball rolling’, but will also play in role in encouraging visitors to get involved (‘that looks like a wonderful photo – why don’t you upload it onto our website’).


  • Internal marketing to regional teams – who are no doubt going to have to moderate the content to a degree.


  • Onsite marketing – why not leave your comments/upload your photographs while you’re there? A few laptops/PCs accessible in the tea rooms would reach a receptive audience.


  • Email or Text marketing – to members the day after their trip to remind them to rate the property, leave comments and upload their pics.


  • Integrating Content from Offline Sources – such as existing questionnaires, as long as permissions have been gathered from the recipients of course.


How much UGC Can a Tithe Barn Generate?

How much UGC Can a Tithe Barn Generate?

Even with this level of support, I still worry about the odd NT preserved tithe barn in the heart of Worcestershire and exactly what potential it has to engender UGC. The template(s) are going to have to deliver quality customer experiences even when UGC is scarce.


And finally, you could argue even 300+ National Trust sites doesn’t go far enough – what about the causes outlined in the Trust’s new 2010 & Beyond strategy document. Can one site support their commitment to the nation’s heritage and open spaces as well as their commitment to the organic food and global warming debates? But that’s a subject for another time.