Friday, 19 February 2010

Understand your audience

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I've just been given a presentation from an online property that got me thinking about both the product and the way in which it was presented.

My initial thoughts were what is this product? Why should I care, and if I do, how will I sell it into my clients? This was not answered until about 20mins in, by which time I was quite confused and lacking interest.

I've never been a sales person (in the traditional sense) however I have met a huge amount in my career so far and spend a lot of time selling in ideas to clients, everything from the mundane (which adserver they should use) to the extravagant (sponsoring the dance tent at Glastonbury) and in every case you need to lay out the nub of your idea in the opening 2 minutes.

Many people argue that it's important to set the scene, put things in context, recap on the brief, but I disagree. We both know the context and I believe this can be incorporated into your idea and answer the main point in the brief. And please don’t recap the brief, I know what it is, I wrote the bloody thing!
Also don't give everything up straight away though, as the art of good story telling allows for your audience to fill some of the gaps. However be clear, succinct and knowledgeable. Don't ever talk about something you can't substantiate, it makes you look foolish and lazy. Obviously you can't legislate for curve ball questions from your audience but if they are handled correctly and answered at the first opportunity after the meeting then you still maintain control.

Having control is another important point to make. Many sales individuals are considered good because they can close the deal quickly and efficiently, however if you're trying to sell in the benefits of a back office social media network, I think you're in a far better position getting a dialogue started amongst your audience. Explain the benefits, show some relevant case studies and then suggest some ideas that you've had for the brand in question. Unless you are exceptionally well informed your audience (planners in this case) will know far more about the product/brand and will start thinking about forthcoming events/promotions that might be relevant, that maybe you’re unaware of.

I think due to the diversity of digital media, there is a far longer gestation period both with the planners and clients, as what you're getting is not always cut and dry. This isn’t to say that response to briefs should try and cover everything off if they can't, as this will result in everything being vague and often vapid.

The bottom line is, understand what our clients do, and where they are headed and want to achieve, understand what it is you do, have the courage to tell me that your product isn't a good fit or conversely that it really is, believe in it and don't, whatever you do, start your presentation with a load of stats about how many unique users and page impressions you have, this is of little importance at this stage as I know the site wouldn't be commercial if it wasn't hitting at least 200k a month and it’s a sure fire way to kill the attention before I’ve even had a chance to have my first sip of coffee.

It’s a tough market for a lot of people currently and many proposals are insightful, purposeful, clear and get me excited and interested in the product and how my brands can fit in, so no disrespect to those, but for the ones who let me down, I'm afraid the plan will go on without you.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010


Image - it's mine! Khao Lak beach early morning. 20/01/2010

In my humble opinion, 2010 will not be a return to the ‘way things were’, as many old fashioned brands hope, post recession, but instead a year of opportunity for brands who put digital at the forefront.

Whilst there is still plenty of value to be driven within the market media owners are becoming increasingly savvy to the value of their products especially those who can differentiate themselves from the mainstream. The behemoths of the media world (MSN, Yahoo!) still provide the reach required for relevant campaigns however I wonder that now the relevance, measurability and engagement of digital has been showcased during 2009, whether just being able to secure 15million page impressions in a 24hr period for a very hefty sum (MSN Homepage), is going to fit into client's key objectives…

Impactful and high reach media will still be relevant to product launches and film releases, however this will often be in conjunction with a whole array of other (predominantly ATL) advertising. Smaller or arguably savvier clients might look to find out more about their audiences and engage them directly. With this in mind, I think the focus in 2010 should be on communities rather than audiences. Many different profiles can make up a community and it’s the brand that taps into them that will find the most traction and consequent success.

As you would expect, most communities can be found in the social space as this is where they are most active, however whilst a social media campaign is often difficult with the nature of many brand's offerings – there are less intrusive methods available which still target these specific communities. I won’t go into these methods in detail as people have written whole books on the subject, but what is worth bearing in mind for both planners and clients, is that you can't just have a separate line on the plan where you assign £25k to 'social media' hoping that by creating a few profiles and 'talking' to your audiences you'll suddenly have thousands of brand advocates running around shouting about how amazing your product is.

Digital (and especially mobile) will be the centre of attention this year. It has earned it stripes by being one of the only channels that clients can rely on in tough times due to its measurability and diversity. Clients are also beginning to notice that online can work on a brand level equally well, whether this is getting 15 million impressions served for your new film trailer or tapping into your un-official fan base through social media, it's all there for the taking.

Clients, be brave, be open minded, stay true to your beliefs and don't be afraid to invest! 2010 is going to be the year when it all makes sense.

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