Archive | October 2012

5 top tips to avoid being a marketing zombie (and survive the zombie apocalypse)

I recently read an article that warned against becoming a marketing zombie. Sometimes being a zombie is awesome, however, in the workplace it is not such a productive state!

So here are my top 5 tips to avoid being a marketing, or just general business, zombie – along with some practical tips for how to deal with the impending doom of the undead rising once again to walk the earth…

1, Business decisions should be supported by sound market research.

Like the graves from which they rose, zombies are often pretty shallow, lacking the ability to have an in depth conversation about recent politics or new trends.

Rather than stumbling blindly into an important business decision, such as entering a new market, this decision should be supported by market research. What is the size of the market? What do these potential clients spend annually on the type of solution you offer? What are the costs of this venture and what is the potential pot available to you? Who could you partner with to sell more effectively? Is this profitable?

And don’t go stumbling into dark buildings with few exits, this could end badly.

2, Draw up personas to help you to understand your audience.

Zombies tend to all have one thing on their mind, which is to consume the brains of the living.

People on the other hand tend to have differing priorities. Don’t assume that your client base thinks just like you! Researching will help to understand how they behave and what really motivates them. Effective marketing campaigns can then be based on this knowledge.

Drawing up client personas can help (good guide to personas here). Don’t be afraid to approach a client and ask them about their behaviors. What magazines do you read? What websites do you visit? What keywords would you search in Google if you were looking for this product? What are your targets? What are the top 3 challenges in your industry at present?

REMEMBER: Your client is not YOU.

But do be afraid of a buddy who may have been bitten by a zombie, they will turn into a flesh eating monster eventually.

3, Measure the effectiveness of your marketing.

The zombie (un)life is an easy one. Stagger, groan, eat brains, repeat.

When it comes to marketing, you should be constantly reviewing how effective your campaigns are. Beforehand it is helpful to set SMART targets and to measure results, test alternatives and then amend messaging/campaigns/activity to improve future results. Not all businesses are looking for pure financial results – some campaigns will be instigated to target increased brand awareness, widening networks through social media, re-educating audiences, achieving a specialist status or award, etc.

Remember, your zombie kill is not effective unless you have killed the brain. Aim for the head. 

4, Choose the right tools for the job.

The zombie lifestyle harks back to a simpler time, before complex technologies and pervasive, even invasive, devices. This makes the zombie audience a difficult one to market to. 

Is the tool you are planning to use really the best one for the job based on your business’ needs? If your research shows that your target audience are UK based, technically unsavvy, older males who prefer to read their newsletters in printed form, then why would you set up a Pinterest channel? (Seeing as Pinterest users are 80% female, mostly from the US and aged 25-44). Facebook is great for some brands but if your audience isn’t there it doesn’t matter how many people are using the platform, there will just be more people to ignore your irrelevant offering. Use your research and industry knowledge to choose your marketing tools, not what you think is the latest new thing.

Many household items can be used to defend from the undead. Go for long, heavy weapons that can be swung at arms length; such as sporting equipment, pokers and most things that can be found in the shed.

5, Work closely with other departments.

If there’s one thing zombies have got right it’s that they tend to attack in large groups.

When attacking your marketing strategy this should be approached as a whole, where you are working closely with other departments. This will mean working with the sales department if your targets are financial and based on converting clients. Also, PR, SEO and customer service departments – these need to work together in a connected way rather than act as silos.

Never split up in zombie-infested territory, you need someone to watch your back. Structured society has probably broken down at this point so you have plenty of time to look for things together – it’s not like you need to be in work on Monday! 

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Interesting people to follow from this article:

Dan Derry @Ask_Dan

Totally awesome annual Brighton zombie walk @Beachofthedead

UX Designer who knows a lot about personas – good BRAINSSSSSSS! @patrick_sansom

Why 7 (+/-2) is the magic number when it comes to content creation

What can psychological theories tell us about how we should express our business’ most important messaging?

I’ve just read a few fascinating articles about content creation and user experience (Steph Hay, Web Standards Sherpa) and why the magic number 7 plus or minus 2 is so special. Miller’s Law is the  idea that “the number of objects an average human can hold in working memory is 7 ± 2.” Maybe sticking to 3-5 is the safe bet, as the first article recommends, as the capacity lowers to 4 with old/young age.

Chunking is used by the brain’s short-term memory as a method for keeping groups of information accessible for easy recall. It functions and works best as labels that one is already familiar with. (Wiki)

So should the best presentations have 7 slides or themes running throughout them? Is this what makes a Top 5 blog/article so easily consumable and therefore a common theme? It’s something to bear in mind when trying to introduce new terms for offerings to an audience. If these were all unfamiliar, new phrases then there could be some difficulty in remembering them all. Whereas one unfamiliar phrase/product name could stand out, look unique, but still be in a surrounding understandable, and safe, context.

Steph’s article also strongly recommends keeping messaging concise. An interesting way to think about that is how long would it take to say your message? Too long and it’s beyond the capacity of the brain to remember it:

The storage capacity is dependent on the information being stored. For instance, span is lower for long words than it is for short words. In general, memory span for verbal contents (digits, letters, words, etc.) strongly depends on the time it takes to speak the contents aloud. Some researchers have therefore proposed that the limited capacity of short-term memory for verbal material is not a “magic number” but rather a “magic spell”. Baddeley used this finding to postulate that one component of his model of working memory, the phonological loop, is capable of holding around 2 seconds of sound. (Wiki)

Content should take business goals into account and there’s some great tips and a table that can be used to ensure you’re on track in Steph’s article. It goes a little something like this…

Goals-and-Content-Table

As someone who is often asking/asked “what is the productive outcome for doing this?” when it comes to marketing activity, this table is a great way to ensure that there is a sound and effective business reasoning to your messaging.

Thanks Steph!

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Interesting people to follow from this article:

Interesting UX person: @steph_hay

Learning about best web practices @StandardsSherpa

And then there’s me… @lauraofbrighton

Is Facebook actually useful as a social media platform? UX Experiment #1

Last week Zuckerberg announced that Facebook hit the 1 billion active users per month mark. That’s a lot of influence for an 8 year old! (Half the age of Resident Evil, as discussed in my previous blog. If Facebook tried to hang out with Resident Evil, RE would laugh and tell it to go play on the swings with Youtube).

This announcement followed a LOT of negative coverage for Facebook in the previous week, that incidentally just happened to coincide with MySpace deciding they want us back.

Such as… Facebooks shares falling, sending Zuckerberg “tumbling” down the Forbes 400 rich list. HOW AWFUL for him to have become a bit less filthy rich. Reports that Facebook had been allegedly dragging up our embarrassing pasts by reposting old messages in timelines and certainly employing creepy business models by tracking drug store purchases of users so as to show them more relevant adds does not help when it comes Facebook’s image as a creepy weirdo standing far too close to you on public transport. 

Personally, I prefer the UX of Google+. Unfortunately, no-ones else does. I do think this will change in future as it has a lot of useful features. First will come the businesses for the Hangouts and the SEO, then the writers for the recognition of their Authorship… others will follow. Facebook is increasingly feeling like an email account with added nosiness, rather than a truly engaging social media platform. Facebook’s propensity to force intrusive ads and feature changes onto users is a little bit… well, Frape-y.

There’s a large part of me that hates Facebook, often refusing to use it or add new people and keeping my account walled up with privacy in the hope that if I don’t feed it then it will die. I decided to go for a month without using Facebook because this would show me if was actually useful as a platform.

Usually, when I get close to slaying the account I don’t because:

  1. Dude, all my photos are on there.
  2. It’s how I keep in touch with people I don’t see so much anymore – e.g. old bandmates.
  3. It’s how I arrange events for groups of people.
  4. It keeps everyone up to date with the banalities of other people’s lives.

After the end of this 4 week experiment I can now report that I have barely missed Facebook at all. The only times I have noticed I’m not using it have been the following scenarios:

  • I’m using Twitter a lot more but that’s ok because, for me, Twitter is more professionally useful, allowing me to network with other people in the local digital industry, read interesting articles that are actually teaching me something and otherwise wasting many hours of the week. OK, so maybe just a little bit more productive.
  • Facebook seems to lull you into thinking you are sustaining your friendships when you’re not. Without it, I’ve been more likely to have to meet people in person or call them for proper catch ups. This is nice because when I “like” what they say we can actually have a conversation about it! A few friends have dropped “because you’re not on Facebook at the moment” into conversation when telling me gossip that I haven’t heard yet, however, I am evidentially still included in the gossip loop.
  • In week 3 one friend calls to check I am ok – which is a thinly veiled attempt to check I’m not mad at them for something and have “blocked.” I’m not. I was last week and probably would have posted an arsey “of the moment” status update about it so not being on Facebook can only be a good thing.
  • At the start of week 4 I want to arrange some events and I realise how it would have been useful to use Facebook to do this. However, I remember how irritating it can be when you put an event on Facebook and then have to call everyone to confirm numbers anyway as no-one seems to look at their events or reply, even when they can make it. I decide to just use the old fashioned “phone people” concept as at least then I know for sure if someone is coming. I want to invite people round for Christmas dinners in December so I decide to make actual invitations as this will be SO RETRO!
  • During week 4 an old school friend who is preggers tells me I need to get back on Facebook so I can see her scan photos. Or Instagram. Or she could text them. I’m going to see her in person next month as well. So I don’t really need to be back on Facebook.
  • At the end of week 4 one of my old bandmates texts me to invite me to her engagement party – THUS DISPROVING the “need it to keep in touch with people like my old bandmates” theory.

This tells me a few things about how useful Facebook actually is to me (not very). It tells me:

  1. The UX of Facebook is often irritating.
  2. Facebook is not as useful as I thought it was, actually it just delays me getting the answers I need.
  3. It does keep me up to date with friends news but doesn’t beat having a conversation with them about it – not only is it good for bonding but gossip is good for your health too.
  4. It lacks the personal touch. These aren’t real relationships and how you feel could easily be misrepresented. The whole Facebook brand feels impersonal.
  5. I can use other social platforms to replace all the functions of Facebook anyway. Alternative platforms are easy to sign up to and mean I can access more relevant information with the advantage of a niche community in some cases. Seems like the wolves are at the door if you ask me…

When I sign back into Facebook it takes about 30 seconds for me to get hacked off with the UX – and, surprise surprise, it’s due to difficulty with the privacy settings. The whole layout of the platform just looks like a BIG MESS. MySpace and Google+ are looking pretty good right now.

I’m off to find a cheat for taking all my photos off…

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Interesting people to follow from this article:

If you feel you aren’t procrastinating enough on Twitter fill that gap with journo @brokenbottleboy

Keeping up with new tech @guardiantech

And then there’s me… @lauraofbrighton

Cool Campaign #1: Resident Evil 6, via Full Fat

Gaming Meats Art - Resident Evil 6

This is a cool campaign from PR agency Full Fat for the launch or Resident Evil 6 on October 2nd 2012. Especially as it’s a campaign that takes advantage of both physical and digital aspects.

The gaming industry is worth over $65 billion with  some game launches making more money than a Hollywood blockbuster, for example, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 thrashing Harry Potter.

The Resident Evil series is a legend when it comes to gaming, having been around for over 16 years years now – it’s literally old enough to buy a packet of fags and a lotto ticket.

At BrightonSEO last month the keynote speaker Dave Trott stressed how important it was for us to make IMPACT with our campaigns – after all, if no one takes any notice of you it doesn’t matter how persuasive your argument is.

So, for an impactful campaign for a legendary game, serving an audience who by nature do not shock easily, Full Fat came up with this:

1, Wesker and Son – the world’s first pop-up human butchery and morgue, located at Smithfields meat market.

Members of the public will be invited to sample and purchase a dizzying array of edible human limbs including hands, feet and a human head, which will be available to buy directly from the shop.  As well as these specially created products, gamers will be able to buy ‘Peppered Human & Lemon Sausages’ and ‘J’avo Caught Human Thigh Steaks’ along with some specially made pots of Red Herb and Green Herb.

Resident Evil 6 Campaign

Food artist Sharon Baker provides the human limbs, having previously produced human bits in baked-bread form. Mixologists Loading provided anatomical cocktails to wash it down with.

2, But hey, just ‘cause you’re a blood-lusting, zombie butcher doesn’t mean you don’t have a CARING side. All proceeds were donated to the Limbless Association. I’m hoping they didn’t send a hamper though….

3, Lectures at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital Pathology Museum, exploring themes in the game and their links between the game and real life, such as future trends in meat consumption and whether the virus of the game could ever become a reality.

Results:

The Twitter campaign resulted in excitement and engagement around the hash tag #nohopeleft and the @WeskerSon Twitter account gained over 750 followers in a short time.

The story was covered by Huffington Post (best photo gallery) and Daily Mail – check out the photos there, they are even more gory than in this blog!

As for the live site – you can’t miss something like that when it’s slapped in front of you!

Resident Evil 6 Butchers

From the Huffington Post gallery

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Interesting people to follow from this article:

The agency @wearefullfat

PR superstar @seanharwood

Straight talking ad man @davetrott

And me… @LauraOfBrighton