Category: Marketing

Make It Count

Marketing, Social Media3 Comments

As marketing and communications professionals, we often spend so much time thinking about what the big message is we are trying to communicate to our audience, we forget about the impact the tiniest interaction can have.

Living in South Australia during Summer, we are no strangers to power outages. When one inevitably hits, the logical first step (to me, at last) would be to visit the SA Power Networks website and check the status of the outage. This is what I saw:


Aside from the initial acknowledgement that they are aware of the problem, very little else is actually of any use. The status and estimated restoration time never changed from what is clearly an automated message and approximate restoration time that left you guessing if anyone was even really there. In other words, it was a signal that their time is more valuable than yours.

While SA Power Networks are undoubtedly one of the State’s largest and most important organisations with enough in their coffers to facilitate and communicate a rebrand from ETSA Utilities, they dropped the ball in this case. The failure to provide timely, helpful updates means that those affected are left not only to speculate, but unable to make any future plans.

This was an opportunity for them to create a connection with their customers. Providing regularly updated information that is both valuable and useful would help to build trust and faith in a brand that has historically been short on both.

In short: don’t underestimate even the smallest messages ability to communicate and reinforce your brand story. Keep it helpful, on-message and above all else, try to realistically address your customers questions at this point.

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What’s in a brand?: Debating the Pros and Cons of Brand South Australia

Marketing0 Comments

brand-south-australiaEarlier this week, the South Australian Government lifted the lid on a new brand for the state created in collaboration with international branding firm, Kato Partners, and Adelaide creative agency kwp!

To say the reaction was mixed would be disingenuous. If a Metacritic score existed for it, it would have an average of 21% based on Adelaide’s reviews. Or to put it bluntly, the natives were really pissed.

There already are a few excellent blog post about the brand (such as Sputnik and Erica Nistico, amongst others) so I won’t bother rehashing what is and isn’t a brand but  summarise what I liked and didn’t like about the logo and the brand.

Things I like about Brand South Australia:

  • It’s bold, clear and to the point.
  • It’s flexible and actually does work in different contexts. Don’t like the colours? Drop in an image that better represents your organisation (if I were still working at Adelaide Uni, a graduation shot of Bonython Hall would be in there so fast).
  • They certainly solved the main problem they identified in the research (“no one outside Australia knows where South Australia is”).
  • The projection on the Festival Centre was really quite excellent.
  • The insights driving the strategy seemed spot on and the methodology thorough.
  • I can get on-board with the doorway idea. We already are in some areas (arts, wine, mining) so hopefully we will also aspire to be in others.

Things I don’t like about Brand South Australia:

  • The brand values – “Creative. Innovative. Industrious.” – seem hollow and amorphous. While a staple of corporate brand guidelines around the world, in this context, they feel too intangible nor provide direction.
  • It looks like it belongs on the Pope (of Chilli Town).
  • What happened to Tasmania?
  • It’s geared too much at an international audience. South Australians know where South Australia is. Ultimately we need to be the biggest advocates of the brand so it would have been nice if there was something more than a door for us to rally behind much like the oft mentioned Canadian maple leaf.
  • That font is really uninspiring.
  • The hashtag was confusing. The original, compact #brandsa devised at the media briefing was replaced by the official #brandsouthaustralia which inexplicably gained a few letters before the event was over #brandingsouthaustralia

For me, the verdict is still out. Although I’m not in love with it right now, I can see myself growing to like, even love it, if we as a state becoming the living embodiment of this new brand narrative.

To the Economic Development Board’s credit, the government agency tasked with this mammoth undertaking, they never said a change was going to overnight and it would take time for South Australians to identify with it.

And whether we like it or not, a stake has most clearly been put in the ground that has polarised the state. But as every marketer knows, if what you’re doing doesn’t piss someone off, you’re not doing it right*.

* Hats off to Central Institute TAFE Marketing Director Kenley Gordon for lending me that one from the Social Media in Tertiary Education Conference. I now use it everytime I’m pitching a new idea.

** Also a big shout out to Adelaide City Lord Mayor Stephen Yarwood who showed me his socially-enabled calendar i.e. every event in his diary now comes with social media notes including relevant hashtags and the Twitter handles of anyone he’s meeting with.


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Why I Chose Hubspot

Marketing1 Comment


Now marketing automation if you haven’t heard, is the new black. Or at the very least, it’s going to be huge this year and for years to come.

If you haven’t come across it before, it allows you to automate marketing activities such as email newsletters, reminders and notifications, allowing you to more effectively nurture prospects and retain customers. Done correctly, it lets you perform marketing at scale which is pretty vital for small marketing teams that can’t afford to dedicate someone to doing email communications

The number of marketing automation suites has grown exponentially in the past few years with most offering a similar set of features. However, while there were some well-established players who claimed an impressive list of clients, after a fairly lengthy evaluation process, it was clear there was only one for me: Hubspot. Here’s why:

They rebuilt it from the ground up

Hubspot wasn’t always a marketing automation suite. They started life primarily as a unified social media and search dashboard but after acquiring a Performable in the last couple of years, rebuilt the entire system from scratch as an integrated marketing suite. That showed some serious commitment on their end rather than merely bolting on new features.

They’re transparent…

Even before I became a Hubspot customer, I was a huge fan of their content. Their marketing resources are quite possible some of the best in the industry and I’ve been referring to it for years. This also extends into the way they talk about their product. I didn’t just know what they had done to date, they gave me a glimpse into their roadmap so I also knew what was to come. Marketing automation isn’t cheap and this made me feel comfortable I was partnering with someone who was going to stay at the forefront of technology.

Their API documentation was also really well put together and simple to understand, which got our developers seal of approval.

And funny

When you talk about Enterprise software, you instantly think corporate and boring but Hubspot’s copywriting is also outstanding. It’s funny and informative, both very important if you’re going to be spending a large part of your working week in there.

hubspot-captionIt’s easy to use

Hubspot is probably the antithesis of most Enterprise software in that it’s incredibly easy to use. The compulsory training is actually really good and hardly a chore, but most impressively the UI is constantly being refined making it easier and more intuitive to perform simple tasks without having to jump around to different sections of the software.

Next time you’re evaluating software for your business, look beyond the feature list and look what’s lying beneath the surface. Are they a company that is going to continue to grow with you and aligns with you now and into the future, or is what they’re offering now as good as it gets.

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Stop Reading, Start Doing

Marketing, Social Media6 Comments

My buddy and fellow higher ed digital dude, Nick Leigh, recently shared with me his motto for 2012: “Stop Reading, Start Doing.”

Which is funny, because as new media practitioners we spend so much time researching and absorbing as much new information as possible because we know how quickly this space moves. One change to Facebook or Google’s algorithm can force you to rethink your entire strategy.

So we convince ourselves that we need to read every blog post that catches our eye and keep drinking  from the social media firehose, all in the name of ‘research’.

But the reality is that we don’t need to always be consuming content left, right and centre. The voracious near-obsessive consumption of content, while beneficial to a point, is asymptotic as the knowledge you gain becomes incrementally smaller and smaller and never ending as the landscape continues to evolve. This ultimately can have a paralysing effect as you wait for more information to validate your approach, often to the detriment of doing any meaningful work.

I am, by very definition, an infovore. While I’m fortunate that this also happens to be my passion, the very nature of my job means that I need to stay relatively current with my knowledge yet I no longer feel compelled to read, listen or watch everything. In fact, my Google Reader – which would always be cleared out at the end of the week – now routinely sits at 100+ unread blog posts. Instead, I focus on staying up-to-date on a few blogs by thought leaders that deliver me the most value on a consistent basis (think Mitch Joel, Avinash Kaushik, Christopher S. Penn), a single industry e-newsletter that curates the best posts from around the web, and when I have a spare moment, I trawl through a Twitter list of industry leaders for links and commentary. In a relatively short amount of time, I’m able to get a read on what’s happening and hopefully come across something valuable that I can put into action with the rest of time I have left.

Do you think there’s too much information out there? What tips do you have for managing your time and the flow of information?


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Brands That Cry Wolf: Marketing’s Authenticity Crisis

Marketing, Social Media3 Comments

One of the best stories you probably missed last year was that of the missing Panasonic Tough Lumix FT10 digital camera. Found by a fisherman at the bottom of Cowan Creek near the Hawkesbury River in NSW, it was retrieved in perfect working order, prompting Panasonic to launch a campaign to reunite the camera with its  owner.

Normally I’m a sucker for feel good stories that confirm we’re not all scum, but when I heard that Panasonic were driving the campaign, I thought it smelled fishy. And I wasn’t the only one.

While we all turned out to be wrong and the camera was legitimately lost and subsequently returned to it’s rightful owner, there was plenty of reasons for our skepticism. The same month the missing camera story broke, Panasonic had already been sprung trying to pass-off an actor as a real person in a campaign.

And who could forget Witchery and Toyota‘s botched attempts at currying favour in social media.

In each case, a brand had deliberately set out to deceive the public and when exposed, done a piss-poor job of explaining it, potentially causing long-term harm to their image and reputation.

I’m honestly surprised that in this age of openness and transparency, brands and their agencies would still engage in deceptive or misleading advertising practices. If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the rise of social media is that the truth will come out and that privacy is disappearing. Brands need to remember that this doesn’t apply to the individual but to them as well and start behaving accordingly.

While it’s possible that the long-term impact to the brand is negligible since ‘it’s only advertising’ it makes the job of marketers and communicators that little bit harder when we do actually have something genuine and authentic to say when every message is either taken with a big grain of salt or dismissed altogether.

What do you think? Does advertising and marketing have a responsibility to be authentic?


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