Are you experienced?

Integration and customer experience, how do you stack up in the next battle ground

To paraphrase Jimi Hendrix, are you experienced? Or to coin a marketing phrase, how integrated are you? In this post I’ll be exploring what this means to us and why integration is so important.

It seems to be a popular soundbite, when starting to talk about experiences and integration, to jump on the ‘advertising is dead’ band wagon. Far from it, in an integrated brand ecosystem, advertising has just as much a role to play as any other. It’s still one of the best ways to scale a message but for DVO, it’s often linked to other touch points such as digital to give the consumer a better experience.

Our philosophy is very simple, a customer experience is the sum of the engagements a consumer has with a brand along their journey. At it’s most basic level, it’s an emotional response, whether it’s good, bad or indifferent, made up over time of these individual interactions.

In order to shape that experience, to ensure it’s overwhelmingly positive, very often requires a rethink.  It requires a more holistic view of the customer and once you’ve accepted that, it requires a rethink of how you structure your brand and communications. It emphasises integration, requiring an understanding of your customers’ journey, understanding behaviours and motivations at each step so that you can meet and exceed expectations. If you can understand your architecture, you can start to shape it to deliver what you want.  Hence my statement about advertising, it still has a part to play. It shouldn’t be the source of your brand strategy, it’s just one of many channels where it’s played out.

That strategic rethink is where it starts, your brand and creative strategy needs to sit at the centre, feeding and shaping each touch point. If you can achieve that then you’re well on your way. As a note of caution, this isn’t about ensuring your logo is in the right place and your brand colours are used correctly, which we see so often in digital. It goes to the core of what a consumer feels and thinks.

In an experience-led world, all customer touch points are integrated around a brand. There are no siloes and no distinction between online/offline, before during or after a sale.  Everything works holistically.

Creating this kind of architecture requires a willingness to change, to be open to being shown the many new ways that people can interact with your brand, and hence the many new touchpoints that you can create as part of your overall architecture. It requires a move away from arbitrary KPIs and a passionate understanding of how your product fits into a every changing world.

DVO are dedicated to this approach, creating effective methodologies to deliver this for our clients. We recently discussed a quote we’ve heard a lot recently, “every industry will have it’s Uber”. We couldn’t agree more, but why should that Uber moment be restricted to new entrants. All sectors have incumbent brands, that to some extent or another, could be their industry’s Uber.

But take a leaf out of Uber’s book. They manage their customers’ experience with true finesse, they haven’t had to change the way they think and work against an ingrained philosophy, but they’ve still had to make it work.

So how experienced are you? Well if you aren’t and you want to talk to us about how we can make this a reality together give us a call.

2016, tapping in to post disruption.

I’m not even going to attempt to make predictions for 2016. Instead I thought I’d talk about what our business is doing and how we are tapping into the post disruption phenomenon we’re seeing in many sectors.

Continuing on from DVO’s rebrand last year, we are now starting to filter through how we as a creative business, intend to differentiate ourselves in the market. This mainly involves highlighting why we’re different and why the hell you should work with us. DVO has a clear path for clients. At the traditional end, we offer services on a typical professional services model, based around our core skills planning, creative, technology and activation. Then it gets interesting.

The other end of the spectrum sees us launch fully fledged, digital businesses into the market. We develop them from internal ideas and external collaborations, prove concept, work them through funding, staff them and watch them go into the world. A bit like sending your kids off to university.

It’s about creating options. Sure, you can continue to work with us the same way you have with agencies for years, or you can dip into projects we are incubating at various stages along their lifecycle, co-founder, collaborator, commercial partner or investor. It turns innovation into reality.

Why have we done this? Well the agency model, in fact the professional services model as a whole, is very tired and it needs shaking up. Secondly we’re really good at spotting opportunities in markets we have a deep understanding of, particularly those that have been created as a result of digital disruption. And we’re entrepreneurs and we want to show it.

We’ve started to categorise these as “post disruption” opportunities. Opportunities that have been created by the original digital disruptors who’ve changed consumer behaviours and perceptions in the verticals they work in. It’s a growing space in most sectors, driven by the new and not so new digital brands, who’ve quickly taken market share from the incumbents who’ve been slow on the uptake. But now the gaps are starting to appear and in fact we think it represents the perfect space for traditional brands to fight back. How are you taking advantage of post disruption?

2016 will see us move projects in the travel, real estate and fitness sectors forward. Get in touch if you have something you’d like to collaborate on, either a project of ours or maybe something you need a collaborator to work on with you.

The reality is the model we’ve developed plays to our strengths. We’re delivering on the same strategies through creativity and technology that we would on a traditional client project. We’re simply taking it one or two steps further into a fully fledged business proposition.

If you’d like to talk about how we can develop something for you, collaborate or you’d like to understand more about propositions we are already developing and how you can be involved, drop me an email.Contact us.

DVO Rebrand news and agency update

We’re still basking in the glory of our DVO rebrand, we’ve had some very constructive and positive feedback which is always nice to hear. Now it’s about putting our strategy into play exactly what we would do for our clients. Watch this space?

Anyway enough back patting. So this is our new “news and insights” strand, the following are some of the things we’re collectively interested in and have been talking about in the agency over the past week. There’s no format for this, hopefully it will stimulate some conversation, feel free to start one.

We were all excited to learn more about the stuff Magic Leap have been up to as news broke of their second round funding, upon further investigation some of the things they seem to be doing with augmented reality are astounding. It’ll be great to see some of this working in practice and who knows maybe used by some brands in the future. It certainly got us thinking about how we could apply some of this tech to a meaningful piece of work which is ultimately what’s important. You have to admire companies like this pushing the boundaries of technology, as a collective however we’re interested in the killer application I’m sure there will be one. This raises an interesting question about technology application, the amount invested in it and where the returns are going to come from, we’d be interested in your thoughts?

The iZettle card reader/payment gateway seems to be the card reader of choice in East London these days and we wanted to find out more about them, particularly their design philosophy. We were taken aback by the emphasis they put on design, it makes huge sense because people simply respond to great design and great UX. It’s a business imperative for iZettle and it seems all areas are aware of the importance of great design, not just the marketing team. I think it says a lot about their culture that everyone cares about this, there are some obvious companies out there with similar beliefs and unsurprisingly they all seem to be doing pretty well. It would be interesting to understand how a business like this that isn’t in a creative industry instils this into the culture and simply why some businesses obviously don’t care?

Given the events of the last week we’ve been discussing “social for good”. Specifically, with Facebook losing users, its teen audience is down by 28% this year, whether Zuckerberg thinks social good is a potential way forward for the platform?

He’s currently looking at AI, Drones and Oculus VR, can they integrate with the site though? Is he not just jumping on the same band wagons that everyone else is? If he uses Drones for good, as he’s talked about, linking villages who aren’t connected with a laser from a drone then he may be able to help people who aren’t connected or are these just publicity stunts?

Is there more Zuckerberg can continue to do for social good? “Naomi Gloat VP, product, social good: “We are taking a data-driven, product-driven approach to doing good in the world. You’re interested in certain causes, and you’re also interested in the causes that your friends are interested in, so we’re trying to take a social angle.”

Proof of this was the in platform tool used for people in Paris to state they were safe, one of the best uses of social seen during difficult times.

Facebook switched on the tool this Friday after a series of shootings and bombings in France’s capital killed more than 100 people and injured more than 350 others. Over 4 million people used the tool to mark themselves as safe. It’s an interesting dimension that I’m sure the clever people at Facebook will be discussing at length.

AI, AGI, machine learning, neural nets, Google open-sourcing TensorFlow, all popular themes recently, but what about delving a little deeper into the philosophical aspect of all this? Is the internet a global brain yet?

The speed at which ideas, opinions and memes spread around the world is so fast these days, that it could be said to be approaching the speed of thought.

We’ve been reading Francis Heylighen this week, director of The Global Brain Institute and his thoughts on how intelligence might emerge from the millions of nodes and networks of the web, much like an organic brain has millions of neurons and synapses, and that this network eventually becomes so large and dense, taking over more functions of coordination, planning, prediction and communication that it could become like a global brain for our planet.

Does that enhance or hinder humans? Heylighen puts forward the argument that it will enhance humanity, and form a symbiotic relationship between people and itself, the global brain making use of evolutions’ millions of years of honing biological sensory input devices (our eyes, ears, brains) to make up for it’s own limited interaction with the physical world. The more input we can give it, the more useful we are to it, so it will reward us and work to our benefit, goes his theory.

Let’s jump ahead a few years, and suppose the global brain does exist and we can ask it anything and it will answer us with exactly what we are asking for. Will there still be a need to convince people? Will people still need to be sold on the benefits of things? Why not just ask the global brain?

Will the brain be rented by brands for periods of time, to dispense ‘advice’ with a commercial slant, or will we, together with the brain, have evolved away from this way of interacting?

In an age of instant advice and god-like truth, it will be interesting to see what role marketers carve out for themselves.

Come and speak to us about your digital strategy, we don’t bite. Contact us.

Clickbait: Can brands and publishers learn from it?

Clickbait is taking over the world, and it’s not good news for media organisations. While respected news publications are still working out how to make profits online, social media sites are awash with clickbait, luring streams of traffic to their websites by piquing people’s curiosity, and making huge profits through advertising revenue.Continue reading

Google to favour mobile responsive sites

Google 3

Ah, finally, Google is making the move we knew was coming! The search engine giant is shifting its focus onto mobile and responsive websites, pushing for better user experience on portable platforms. With mobile internet use on the rise, it makes sense; Google is moving with the times (or leading them).

The problem is, not all marketers have done the same. So when Google recently sent out a warning (via its Webmaster Tool) to sites which have problems when displayed on mobile devices, a lot of webmasters would have broken into a sweat and wondered what Google was really getting at.Continue reading

Why branded films are the next step for video content

Warning: Contains extremely engaging and very distracting video

Have you heard? Hollywood heavyweights Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert Di Niro and Brad Pitt are to star in a new film. If that’s not impressive enough, Martin Scorsese is directing, and the whole thing was written by The Wolf of Wall Street’s Terrence Winter. But there is a catch. It’s not a feature length film, rather a short, branded picture – albeit costing $70 million. And the brand behind it? Studio City, a new casino in Macau.Continue reading

A winning formula for company blogs

They have the potential to be powerful marketing weapons – retaining customers, acquiring new ones, increasing brand recognition and providing strong material for PR campaigns. So why do so many company blogs struggle to deliver?

While there’s no definitive answer, we at DVO have a pretty good idea of what’s going wrong. At the heart of the problem is a fundamental misconception of what a blog is for. As a journalist, I know the importance of writing for an audience. If you don’t produce stories they want to read, they’ll go elsewhere. And if their interest and tastes change, you have to adapt to cater for them.Continue reading

Using our skill-set to help the National Literacy Trust

This is a bit of a departure from my usual blogs, which focus solely on the industry and DVO’s perception of the challenges that brands face. But, this time around I wanted to take a look at a piece of work we were involved in through 2014 with The National Literacy Trust (NLT), an amazing charity which works tirelessly helping to raise literacy standards in the UK.

As an agency that values content so highly, including the editorial variety, it seemed like an obvious fit to offer our services for the Books About Town campaign. It involved digital, installations, and a good deal of participation from famous authors and artists to create book benches, which you may well have seen dotted around London as part of four trails. On Tuesday, with summer and prime outdoor reading weather having drawn to a close, the benches were auctioned off. In total, over £250,000 was raised for the charity, funds that are vital for the NLT to be able to continue its good work in the UK.Continue reading

Staying ahead of disruptive technology

This week we look at the disruptive technology feeding the raft of start-ups and causing headaches for sector incumbents who, by their very nature, are slow to adapt. Marketing is an area where technology is making great strides, but it’s worth remembering that technology is no substitute for a great idea and strategy.

The DVO team and I have been spending a lot of time thinking about disruptive technology and how we can grow our proposition of creating integrated campaigns and experiences for our clients through a curated technology stack.

It’s increasingly apparent that brands are recognising the need for change. However, their internal organisations are so tightly linked to the marketing landscape that has grown up in the last 60 years, since TV came along, that the way forward has become blurred. This can be seen in the many tools and tactics that focus on a particular silo, while the root problem remains the same; brands need a strategy that will adapt to the disruption new technologies bring.Continue reading