A Marketing Directors dilemma

Our CMO Jackie discusses the dilemma facing Marketing Directors in the connected world

At DVO we’re all about taking on the challenges of a digitally connected world. As a recent convert from Head of Marketing to marketing director in an agency I thought I’d share my perspective on challenges I faced first hand; more channels than I could shake a stick at, who’s taking charge and digital for conversation not just conversion.

Being a part of DVO, I’m lucky to have the unique perspective of someone who’s in an agency but was, until very recently, working client-side. Which basically means, I feel the pain you as Marketing Directors are going through. And how frustrating it can be, especially as people on the other side of the fence seem to think it’s all freebies, club launches and tickets to the tennis. When you and I know it’s much more late nights, spreadsheets, finance people breathing down your neck and doing the job of 3 people.

Don’t get me wrong, I vaguely remember the days of supplier lunches in fancy restaurants and limited accountability. But with the coincidence of a recession and huge advances in technology, those days are long gone.
We’re all so busy, it’s almost impossible to keep up with new developments and technologies. The rise of digital, in all its forms, has meant a huge sea change in the way businesses work and communicate with customers. So here I thought I’d list a few of the biggest challenges this has presented me.

How many channels???

Digital. A small word with big implications. In basic terms, which many people forget, it’s not a completely new area of marketing, it’s just more and different channels to add into your marketing mix. But with so many channels now available to us, it gets harder and harder to manage them all. We have to become masters of everything, which is pretty impossible, and most of us usually end up focusing our limited time and budget on tactical delivery across our channels, rather than core strategic development which would ultimately mean seamless activity across appropriate channels. Yes, we all know we should be rolling out a fully integrated marketing plan. Heck, most of us probably think we are (“yes, of course I’m including web updates and Facebook ads for our next event”), but just having lots of channels and putting stuff on them isn’t integration. It’s starts much further back, it starts with research, it starts with planning and it is all about the over-arching strategy. Channel shouldn’t feature until way, way later.

Who’s in charge of what these days?

With the restraints and pressures modern businesses are facing, Marketing often bears the brunt (and wrath?) of the Finance Director. Often seen as a cost to the business, us marketers seem to spend a lot of time and effort justifying our existence and endlessly reporting on every penny spent, and our influence and support function constantly curbed. This usually happens in companies with little understanding of what Marketing actually is and how it should benefit and support the entire business. With this lack of understanding, I’ve often been faced with ‘challenging’ company structures, which means the Marketing department is responsible for, but has no power or influence over, certain digital assets.

The most common one being eCommerce (Finance people cannot get their heads around the fact that eCommerce isn’t just about sales) and or the website and social media. This makes puffs of smoke appear out of my ears. But it happens time and time again and we need to find ways and means to deal with this. Again, it means starting at the top and ensuring the overall strategy takes these restrictions into account and that there is resource available that understands these relationships and can help implement and manage the strategy to ensure that it is delivered appropriately. Whether this is an internal or external resource, that ability to understand each channel and manage content and campaigns across them all is key.

Someone to take charge!

I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve approached a new (and often existing) creative agency with a project or activation and been faced with the question “So what do you want to do then?”. This drives me mad. Hang on a minute, I thought you were supposed to be the specialist here? I’ve told you my objectives, I’ve shared with you my strategy, I’ve probably given you a ball park budget figure and I’ve told you the schedule. Aren’t YOU supposed to tell Me what I should be doing? It’s been endless; so-called web developers who have no commercial or strategic experience, asking me how I want a site structured.

Creative agencies who, when it boils down to it, are basically graphic designers and want me to tell them how something should look. Social media agencies who have no wider understanding of other marketing channels and how to integrate your company activity to engage with your followers. I could go on. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s nigh-on impossible for marketers to be experts in every new channel or technology that becomes available. For once, I’d like an agency to take the lead and wow me with what THEY think I should do.

It’s about conversation, no just conversion.

The rise of digital got lots of people (mainly MDs and FDs) excited about accountability. I’m first to admit, tracking the performance of most of the traditional marketing channels has been tricky to say the least. A lot of it comes down to rather obscure and sometimes extremely tenuous metrics, which is often dismissed by big cheeses with a roll of the eyes and a slightly patronising pat on the head. But with digital, everything changed. Suddenly there was a whole host of trackable metrics to analyse, dissect and report on. And a lot of it was free! Double win!

So, not so slowly, digital marketing activity became all about conversion. We spent what to make how much? And if we spend this much more, we make what now??? Right, let’s focus on that. As sure enough, customers start to switch off. Digital channels are just that, more channels. We need to remember to not only speak to customers through these channels, but also to listen to them. It’s always been a two-way conversation. And we must never lose sight of that and get lost in the technology.

DVO has been built specifically to tackle these challenges. Challenges that have arisen as we have moved into a digitally connected world. For us it’s not just about understanding how consumers behave differently now. The new normal affects brands in equal measure and it’s important for us to take a keen interest in and have a deep understanding off the challenges that face a marketing department on a daily basis. You can contact us here we’d love to show you how we can help take back control and deliver success.

The future agency. Actually, what should an agency for now look like?

When exactly is the future? Agencies muse on what we should look like in 10 years’ time, is this to paper over the cracks of what a full service agency should look like now?

Technology is often cited as the key to a future agency. I personally think it’s alarming that we still talk about technology as if it’s something new. Most of us should be well on our way down the tech path, if not we’re well behind the majority of consumers out there. Something that is nearly always left out of these discussions are the constants, the intangibles and processes that haven’t or shouldn’t have changed and they are what makes agencies good and some better, sure technology has improved their efficiency but it most certainly hasn’t made them unnecessary, in fact they are more important than ever.

This week we explore the notion of what a full service digital agency should be now, not what an agency should look like in 2, 5, or even 10 years because by that point it’s probably too late. This isn’t a dig at the industry, more a checklist of what a client should look for when evaluating agencies to work with in a digitally connected world.

Firstly, I think it’s worth explaining a little bit about the digitally connected age and what this actually means. The digitally connected age is, put simply, the “New Normal”. The new normal, put simply, is a change that’s here to stay. Consumer behaviour has been altered, driven by technology, and this is now the norm. There’s no going back to that pre-tech or pre-device age, it has become the “new normal”. This isn’t the first time technology has driven a big shift in consumer behaviour, the advent of TV, allowed content to be beamed directly into households, and this had a huge impact on the way consumers behaved and of course how brands took advantage of this through their marketing. The new normal we live in now requires a subsequent shift in how brands take advantage of this behavioural change. This of course means the agencies that serve them also need to make changes.

So what does this mean for agencies? Well, there are two areas of focus; where change or new skills need to be embraced and where consistency is required. Finding the balance is key to delivering consistently strong work.

What a full service agency for the digitally connected agency should be embracing:

• Integrated communications are the only route to successful outcomes in the new normal. Consumers are navigating across multiple touch points at breakneck speed. Consistency is therefore key, get one wrong and you run great risk of losing the consumer. They don’t view these touch points as silos, rather they make decisions based on the sum of the whole experience.
• Technology simply can’t be ignored in the new normal. It seems daft to have to say this really.
• Data is the key to unlocking success in the new normal.
• With so many channels and so many options in the new normal, clear, concise, creative strategy is a must to knit everything together.
• Great creative should come from the intersection of design and technology

However, some things need to remain consistent. They’re as relevant today as they were in the 80s, sadly they are sometimes undervalued in our immediacy culture, but you can bet they exist in spades behind the best work out there.

• Good agencies solve problems; they do this by understanding what the problem is. They have good, thorough planning.
• Ideas can come from anywhere but in a professional environment great ideas are born of good insights. That means good planning.
• Good agencies have strong, strategic thinking, informed by good planning

Sadly, this isn’t the natural stomping ground for digital agencies whose focus is very often on the doing rather than the thinking and doing, planning is only skin deep. Don’t believe me? Well you can see this in action when you look at recent big pitch wins. Switched on clients are invariable spending money with integrated or more traditional creative agencies. Brands have recognised the value is in the thinking and ideas and treating production as a given, as digital capabilities are more universal they they have ever been.

So what does this mean a lead full service agency should like like now? Well, we rather unsurprisingly think it should look a lot like us. It should be any agency that recognises that a more complex world puts even more emphasis on first being able to understand that world, the people in it and how to connect that with a brand for a mutually beneficial outcome. It requires a full service agency that isn’t heavily biased towards a particular channel or methodology, someone who’s thinking beyond channels and making appropriate decisions at the right time. Someone at home with both campaign and always-on marketing approaches, but crucially, someone who can knit the two together. In this complex world, we believe that collaboration should be high on the agenda, whilst it clearly pays to be integrated, no agency can claim to be a master of everything. We favour a narrow but deep approach, retaining control at the strategic and creative end where it’s important, but recognising that we can work with partners on production and activation.

Above all it should be a full service agency that can take the strategic lead and not get bogged down in tactical delivery.

We’re not a straight digital or creative agency for this very reason, because it’s limiting. We integrate digital as it’s very often the glue that keeps everything else aligned. But this isn’t a digital only approach, if anything our approach is quite old-fashion; understand, think, then do. We call it lean full service.

If you’d like to discuss how DVO can help you tackle the new normal, then contact us. We want to hear your story, more importantly we want to tell others for you.

Announcing our latest new DVO team member.

It is with great pleasure that we announce the appointment as Marketing Director of new DVO team member Jackie Clode-Dickens

Jackie’s first foray into marketing was helping to establish and grow the data division of Dennis Publishing, a forerunner and industry leader of subscriptions marketing and customer data rental. It was here, working with brokers and agencies, that Jackie’s love of B2B marketing was born.
“I learned pretty quickly that a quick sale of an inadequate solution might mean hitting a target in the short term, but long term success is created by working with clients to ensure you understand their needs and find the right product or service that will grow their business and exceed expectations. That’s how you get loyal, happy customers”.
After 7+ years at Dennis, Jackie moved into a marketing manager role for multi-channel retailer Compton & Woodhouse, quickly moving up to group marketing manager. At Comptons Jackie further developed her reputation for creativity, ROI and the creation and delivery of integrated campaigns online and off.

She then moved off on a bit of a tangent, still working within marketing but in a much more NPD focused role, as special projects manager for the largest independent multi-channel retailer in the UK, Scotts & Co., launching their EPOS gift card solution from scratch, as well as working on brand launches, eCommerce platform solutions and improving key brand strategies.

Then came Jackie’s biggest challenge, as head of marketing for Camden Market. Her wide-ranging skills were all called into play to create and deliver a marketing strategy to support every single aspect of a set of complex business objectives. This included a complete relaunch of the company website, grow an almost non-existent social media audience and customer database, launch and deliver a year-long events programme, bring in new traders and retailers, attract a new audience to the market, manage footfall tracking on-site, launch a free customer wifi network across site, develop and deliver a PR strategy, oversee all on and offline creative and establish and maintain local and national partnerships.

Jackie is a grass roots marketer, who puts her customers at the heart of everything she does. She brings a truly unique blend of keys skills ranging from data-driven direct marketing, multi-channel retail support, events and brand activation, PR, digital, social, TV, outdoor and print marketing, born of two decades of experience and an endless passion for creativity, people, ideas and brands.

Jackie’s remit at DVO as a board Director is to take overall responsibility for marketing the agencies services and philosophy. In the shorter term she has been tasked with developing DVO’s experiential offering to complement the holistic communications services offered by DVO.

DVO has grown significantly since its inception. We have created an agency model specifically for the digitally connected world we live in and we look forward to the exciting times ahead.

If you would like to discuss your challenges in more detail you can contact Jackie and the rest of the team here.

An immediacy culture, beware.

The immediacy culture that technology has created brings huge opportunities for marketers, but beware there’s also a downside.

 

One thing’s for sure, technology has created an immediacy culture. Efficiencies gained through technology form an integral part of people’s subconscious expectations when going about their daily lives. Most people own at least one device and a large proportion have many. With virtually everything at their finger tips, accessing information, services and communicating with other people has never been easier and it has set consumers’ expectations very high.

Exploring the immediacy culture further from a marketing perspective throws up clear opportunities, but sadly doesn’t stop there. Brands are increasingly falling foul of the downside of this cultural phenomenon.

Opportunities clearly exist for brands that can take advantage of these unconscious consumer expectations and if a brand can get this right across the entire customer journey, the inevitable result will be loyal customer advocates, spending money and encouraging others to do so. Get it wrong though or failing to recognise that this is happening will undoubtably result in a lost customer and their disenchantment, thanks to the aforementioned technology, having a much larger effect. Negative review anyone?

Culturally, this is something that affects everyone to a certain degree. For a brand to take advantage however, requires a well thought out strategy, a great idea and measureable implementation. Unfortunately, particularly in digital, that constant seems too often forgotten. We see brands expecting to achieve challenging strategic objectives quickly by assigning insufficient budgets and devising unworkable tactics that ignore the very realities they are trying to achieve. Impatience has become a very powerful force in our society, more so today than ever before, fuelled by the tools that modern technology has facilitated.

Effort, patience, commitment, serious research and similar, time-consuming endeavors have become unwelcome, with little value assigned to these practices. More and more brands just want to get things done on the fly, while not really becoming invested in what they are doing or understanding the impact on the bigger picture. A quick blog, a few tweets, and a mobile app seem to be the centre of peoples’ expectations. In other words, people are starting to reject the virtues that made today’s technology possible. There’s a great opportunity for brands who invest in gaining the upper hand, making the immediacy culture work for them, rather than being impatient and undertaking ill thought out activity and ending up with burnt fingers.

This is emphasised when you look at the potential future landscape, a place where we are likely to see the lifecycle of brands dramatically decrease. Initially, technology will drive growth, but lack of underlying substance will see consumers quickly move onto something new. Are the warning signs already there? Will the first wave of technology driven disruptors be around in 15 years?

How do we address this?

Let’s remember how we got here, would be my first piece of advice. The telephone and it’s current incarnation, the smart phone, is the result of over 100 years of hard research and painstaking trial and error. Marketing and communications have been around for a long time and probably reached it’s zenith in the 1970’s when planning was added to the mix. All the technology that’s become mainstream since has simply added new channels, enhanced understanding and made things more efficient.

My second piece of advice was something I learned a long time ago and it infuriates the hell out of my team sometimes. Keep asking why? Why are we doing this? If you can’t answer that as an agency or brand employee then don’t do it, a bit like if you can’t measure it why spend money on it. Marketing budgets are created to support business objectives, an inability to measure this goes against the reason marketing exists in the first place. I’ll caveat this by saying that not everything has a simple measurement, but overall activity should correlate to a result of some kind, even if it’s big picture like sales or market share.

Let’s use technology intelligently and responsibly. But most importantly let’s not lose sight of what made marketing really great; research, planning and great ideas. The only constant in our industry. Ok the means of communication and interaction have changed, the idea of a campaign is a bit old hat but the increased complexity of the world we live in fuelled by technology surely means we need these attributes even more?

If you want to talk to us about how DVO can bring clarity and success to your marketing challenges in the digitally connected world, get in touch.

Welcome to the DVO team

It is with great pleasure that we announce the appointment of Virginie Lechevallier Bennett to the role of International New Business Development at DVO.

Virginie started her career in advertising in Paris, her hometown, where she worked as a new business consultant for leading agencies and created and developed her own business. She has also worked as a copywriter for agencies and brands, predominantly in the luxury sector. Virginie made her move to London in 1999, where she worked for agencies such as Splash Worldwide and Kinetic, before taking some time out to be a full time mother and focus on her writing projects. After publishing her first novel she’s come back to the agency fold and we are delighted that she has joined us at DVO. She brings a unique blend of creativity and relationship management, over two decades of experience and an endless passion for creativity, people, ideas and brands.

Virginie’s remit at DVO is to further develop the DVO client roster both with National and International brands.

DVO has grown significantly since it’s inception. We have created an agency model specifically for the digitally connected world we live in and we look forward to the exciting times ahead.

If you would like to discuss your challenges in more detail you can contact Virginie here.

Are you being disrupted?

Disruption, the silent brand killer. You may be being disrupted without even realising it. But don’t worry, help is at hand.

The important thing to do first is don’t panic. Disruption can happen to anyone and it’s often not so simple to recognise. However, there are some tell tale signs that can help you on your way to identifying a problem and in turn, seeking the help you need. Do you recognise the following statements, answering yes to two or more may indicate you have a problem and you’re suffering from disruption. Be honest. Remember, admission is the first step to a solution. You can get through this.

  • My customers keep asking whether we have an app or not. Steve in sales is getting tired of having to explain we don’t.
  • @customercomplainer said bad things about us on social media and nobody knew how we should handle it.
  • Our customer base is ageing and we don’t seem to be able to connect with a younger audience.
  • Our customers aren’t online, we do most of our business on the golf course.
  • Brand, we’ve got one of those, our logo looks great.
  • There are lots of new businesses in our sector, mostly online, but we’ve been around for 50 years so we’re not worried.
  • We’ve got a digital team – they sit in Manchester, our marketing department is in Brighton and we meet quarterly.
  • There’s a company in our sector just doing one element of what we do, we don’t even understand how they are making money and it’s mobile only.

If you’ve answered yes to two or more of these questions then it’s highly likely you are, or will be suffering from disruption. It’s time to seek professional help and above all don’t panic. Take solace, admission of a problem is the first step to a solution – you are on the right path, with the right help and determination you can beat this.

As with most things timing is key, certain sectors are moving faster than others towards a point where mainstream customers will have adopted new business models. If you’ve done nothing so far it may not be too late to become part of the new normal in your sector, but you need to act now. Don’t suffer alone.

DVO highly recommend you seek professional advice if you think you are being disrupted, this is not something you should have to face on your own. The guidance and support of an experienced agency will help you, over time, to understand these issues and prescribe a course of treatment that will help you to regain your brand status and become a part of the new normal.

We can help you with this problem and we promise we won’t make you lie down on the couch, unless of course you want to. We’ll even make you a cup of tea. Call us on 0203 771 2461, or drop us an email.

Getting to grips with the customer journey – Stage 1 of Innovation

We’re obsessed with Financial Services (FS) at the moment. It’s a sector rife with change and opportunity. Today we’re discussing what seems to be lacking and despite efforts in innovation, why FS still seems to be missing the point because of an incomplete understanding of the customer journey.

Visa, Barclays, NatWest and Santander amongst others have all launched fintech incubators or some sort of start-up fund over the last few years. On the face of it, it’s a smart move. However integrating this innovation into normal business isn’t happening in any kind of meaningful way.

To us, the real problem is changing consumer behaviour, that has dramatically altered the customer journey. Effective communications and engagements happen across the customer journey in the modern world, but the sector as a whole seems to not have noticed. Something needs to change, fast. The World Economic Forums’ ‘Future of Financial Services’ report highlighted an unprecedented level of change for the industry. You can read the key points here.

I’m sure it’s been said a lot but for big brands, they perceive change as being difficult. For every discussion about innovation there’ll be a discussion about how difficult it is to get anything done within a big brand. It’s the kind of barriers as marketers we’re familiar with. But, it strikes us that aligning around the customer journey is definitely a place to start. Once you understand your customers and their touch points you can start to think about how you interact with them. Surely this then helps to evaluate the innovations you bring into your normal business? Interesting parallels are drawn with digital at large – once upon a time it was thought of as just another media channel, then things started to change and now digital isn’t just about websites and banner ads. It’s something that should be integrated across your whole brand ecosystem. The reality is however, that in most cases it’s not.

So why get involved? There are risky investments in the bigger picture and innovation isn’t being brought into the normal business areas. Yet.

I’d argue that what actually makes these businesses interesting is a fundamental difference in the way that they build their products and services. In an ideal world, what I would like to see is more of a culture transfer based around an approach that really puts the customer at the centre of brand. Look at the collaborative economy, peer to peer businesses have been popping up all over the place in FS with some very successful propositions. Why? Because they are facilitating something that that people want to do in a way they want to do. The “I have, you need” philosophy.

I should qualify this article by saying that whilst it does talk about large institutions I am referencing the whole sector. When you come down a rung or two in times of size and scale, the problems seems to be multiplied. Mid-size organisations don’t have a fintech incubator in Tech city. So what the hell do they do. How can they compete? Simple – understand your customers, understand your landscape and competition and think about how you can slowly begin change.

Have a look at this chart, where do you fit?

How digitization transforms industries

How digitization transforms industries McKinsey.com

Taking all of this in context, it still seems to me that no one incumbent has got this cracked. Change has happened and it’s just a matter of time, especially if you’re doing nothing, that things start to go backwards. Let’s end on a positive however – if you can’t innovate your products and services you can definitely innovate your customer contacts. You can become integrated, you can do something about the experience your customers have around your existing products and services.

So I guess the reason why the big institutions are getting involved is to hedge their bets. Hopefully one day, being able to integrate the innovation-led customer-first approach into their core business or when the innovative tech becomes the new norm, they’ll have a slice of the pie.

If you want to give your customer an outstanding experience every step of the way, why not get in touch, we can discuss how we can do it together over a nice cup of tea. Contact us through our form, or call us on 020 3771 2461.

Designing to be ahead of the curve

Digital design, why standing out could be the best thing you ever do.

This week we discuss digital design with particular emphasis on the Financial services sector. We argue why it’s so important to stand out and eschew the bland template driven design that has pervaded the internet of late.

The Financial Services (FS) sector is in flux. Technology has changed behaviour and many players in the space have been slow to align marketing and sales efforts around the customer journey. The telephone call or face to face meeting is rarely the first interaction a potential customer has with a brand anymore, regardless of their products and services, consumer or b2b focus. This is a clear departure from the linear sales funnel that many organisations have historically based their marketing and sales efforts around. In this article from McKinsey they highlight significant waste in marketing spend by companies not aligning their activity to the customer journey.

So why is design so important in all this?

Well it’s simple really. We’re in the digital age, the first interaction a potential customer has with your brand is rarely with a person. They are forming an impression of your business based on what they interact online with – an ad, content, your website. The impression is formed by the sum of those initial engagements, good or bad. If the design, both visual and interactive, is bad then the experience is invariably bad and it’s highly likely you’ll never have an opportunity to convince them otherwise.

It’s an interesting juxtaposition versus the people and their smart business addresses, but the overall experience is eroded by their work in digital, which is very often formulaic with little importance placed upon it. Bad design and an ill conceived brand that lacks differentiation creates a negative emotional response. Is this how you want your company to be perceived?

Digital has a huge part to play, whether these brands have budget for TV or not, digital will form a part of the customer’s journey. This is unavoidable, it’s simply the way the world works these days. Within the digital space there are three creative elements at play, visual, interactive design, and content. Digital is actually a catch-all for a variety of channels. Some you own, some you pay for, but all need to be aligned with your brand. It’s simply not enough for your digital presence to have your logo and colour scheme, it’s an imperative that the whole package, the way it looks, the way it behaves and the way it communicates, all aligns to your brand.

A change in behaviour driven by digital should have been a real wake up call, but that still seems not to be the case. We suspect this is mainly driven by a lack of understanding, especially when marketing has historically been less of a factor. It’s understandable, in the old linear world, face to face interactions happened much earlier in a customer journey – referrals and networking drove new business. Websites were just an expense as they didn’t have a perceived effect. Ah, the good old days. Well not anymore.

And it’s not just the incumbents who are getting it wrong, in this article by Marketing Eye they highlight the mistakes being made by new entrants in the space. These tend to favour safe design, something the sector does well. But put simply, consumers don’t buy into safe and generic. Not anymore. Whether you’re new on the block or an old hat in an increasingly competitive climate, differentiating your brand is key to success. To do that you need good design.

If you’ve read this thinking “that’s great but it won’t affect us” then you need to have a change of heart, because someone will come along who understands the art of good design and all of a sudden you’ll be looking for another job. It’s absolutely the right time to think about how your brand is perceived, as consumers are re-evaluating their relationships with financial institutions. Don’t believe us? Well in a 2013 YouGov survey 73% of responders believed the reputation of bankers was bad. Time to check up on how your brand is being perceived then.

For an overview of our creative services you can read more, here. If you’d like to discuss with us how we can help shape your customer experience, stop wasting money and get the results you want then give us a call, 020 3771 2461 or email us.

Financial sector incumbents need to step up

Technological disruption is shaking up the finance industry as we know it. Peer to peer lending, mobile-only banks, online investment funds, the list is growing, increasing the demands on the sector incumbents to step up

Looking at whole market when planning within Financial Services (FS), we encounter the same issues affecting the brands we work with time and again:

relevancy
Relevance
perception
Perception
competition
Disruptive competition

You can see these issues being combated very clearly if you look at the approach of the high street banks. Digital products and services and highly emotive brand advertising are no coincidence, born of an understanding of consumer needs and perceptions. These issues however, are something that are affecting the whole sector in some way or other. With particular experience across the sector, especially with those brands dealing with high net worth customers, we’ve developed a detailed understanding of these issues and more importantly, simple strategies that lead to marketing success.

relevancy

Relevance

Relevance is something that we have encountered heavily amongst heritage brands in the sector. As the world has moved on, some businesses have struggled to keep up, traditional new business channels have become less successful and whole generations of potential customers simply don’t know who these businesses are or why they would need them. Our research shows that as technology-native wealth creators have emerged, they have bypassed the traditional, introduction-based new business funnel. The solution here is to establish the conversation earlier in the customer journey and demonstrate relevance and understanding. Often this means doing something in digital, something that clearly demonstrates the brands relevance early in the customer journey and begins to develop a relationship.

perception

Perception

Perception is still a big issue. Whether your brand has been tarnished by indiscretions of the past or it’s a case of guilty by association, the general perception of the FS sector is not wholly positive. There are a number of different ways to approach this. If your budget is large, make an advert where you return a lost item of clothing with particular sentimental value, or you can focus on getting to the heart of your customers needs, passions and goals. As with relevancy, if you can position your brand as a relevant brand who understands your customer, their needs, goals and importantly their journey, you will build credibility. This will help develop the trust that naturally arises through understanding. It requires an holistic view of your customer and a detailed understanding of your brand, ensuring the activities you undertake make you stand out.

From a design perspective there seems to be a race within FS towards uniformity, particularly in terms of brand identity and web design. This kind of uniformity can only end as a negative, particularly when looking to build trust and credibility. It’s a fact that consumers buy into good design, they react to something that offers a great user experience and has an identity not identikit.

competition

Disruptive competition

The third key problem affecting the sector is the disruptive competition. The rise of fintech start-ups is growing month on month and it’s putting key pressure on incumbents. We’ve written before about how each sector will have an Uber moment, FS seems a sector primed for this to happen in the near future. Driven by an understanding of the landscape, competition and customer solutions designed to take back customer share should focus on the entire brand ecosystem of products and services. The key is developing a strategy that works across multiple channels and can accommodate the integration of new products, digital platforms and services alongside existing offerings to create a holistic portfolio. We often use digital platforms to reach the customer earlier in their journey, building a relationship before they move into the more traditional face to face led phase. Ultimately a robust overview of the situation leads not just to successful marketing, but very often the insights uncovered identify opportunities for new products and new business directions, which can be quickly launched and scaled in the digital space.

Our services and ultimately what we deliver often blurs the line between marketing and business propositions acting as new entry points for consumers who have otherwise perceived barriers to working with our client brands. It’s not all doom though, incumbent brands do have a key advantage, especially if they can tick the first two boxes of relevance and credibility. Their infrastructure is very often geared towards lead nurturing, the problem is bringing the consumer into the funnel as we’ve discussed. Once there, a more traditional approach can be applied, traditionally a strength, of building the relationship. The key is knowing what to do and when now that the customers journey has been significantly altered by technology.

Understanding your problem is the first step to doing something about it. At DVO we apply a no-nonsense approach to the work we undertake, taking the complex and creating beautifully simple solutions that work. We do this particularly well for brands in the financial sector. We’d love to discuss how we could help with your specific challenges, call us on 020 3771 2461, or use our contact form.

Digging deeper.

Why understanding needs, passions and goals in an experience-led world is so damn important.

Omni-channel marketing, multi-channel marketing, holistic. All terms being used heavily at the moment as the world begins to get switched on to thinking about the sum of a customers engagements, their overall experience. It’s a constant topic at DVO.

There’s confusion over omni-channel and multi-channel particularly, seemingly used interchangeably by those not fully up to speed. We like the definitions provided by Lisa Mantell from Emarsys, here.

We have technology to thank for this but from a brand’s perspective, these new channels have often been added to marketing structures developed in an age where channels were limited and communication was always one way. Couple this with an empowered consumer who is bombarded with unprecedented levels of advertising and it seems like the wheels are beginning to creak.

So how do we cut through and achieve real success in this omni-channel world (sorry unavoidable buzzword).

Well, put simply, we need to dig deeper so we can better understand the needs, passions and goals of our consumer. We need to think more strategically, developing collective strategy that is shaped around our customer, adapted at a channel specific level based on where our customer is in their journey and their specific demands at that point. And we need to stop using strategy as a catch-all term for tactical channel work (pet bug bear of mine). To me it feels like we are at a tipping point, those slow to react will likely fall away and new, unencumbered entrants will step into the space, buoyed by an holistic approach to communication from day one.

Very often, and especially at DVO, this means taking a step back, rethinking strategy and how we solve problems for clients. Focusing our approach so it can work across multi-channel, not led by a particular area as this isn’t the world we live in any more. Think about it, your consumer interacts with you on the TV, in press, at a desktop, on mobile, in-store and on the phone and can do this in a blink of an eye on multiple channels at the same time. The aims of your brand are either achieved or not, through the sum of these interactions and it’s blindingly obvious that how you approach this needs to cover them all.

Better understanding your customer requires multiple research elements, integration of numerous data sources and ultimately bigger picture thinking. DVO’s approach comes very much from a strategic viewpoint but our model is different to traditional agencies in that we are entrepreneurs, our innovation core isn’t about playing with new tech and palming it off as entrepreneurship. We actively incubate start-up propositions through the agency and then, either in collaboration or under our own steam, launch new business ventures. It gives us insight at a big picture business level. This kind of innovative thinking leads to the development of products and services that blur the line between marketing and business and sit inside a brand’s portfolio of offerings, paid or free.

This is something you should definitely be asking of your agency and yourselves. How are you integrating? I personally don’t feel that huge reorganisation is needed, it’s more about sitting strategy and brand management above channels rather than being focused on above the line.

If you’d like to discuss your challenges, call us on 020 3771 2461, or drop us an email.