So here we are again, and the day starts with the opening address.
#10 on how to get the most out of the festival is ‘be flexible and be zen’.
Roll with the chaos and enjoy. I’ve been coaching the boys on this for the past 12 hours and we are good to go on our divide and conquer plan to see even more content than last year. I like the reminder that SXSW is about the community to which White belongs. And the encouragement to interact and interconnect with the people we meet here to learn as much as we can. The first session;
What is a brand now anyway?
The panel was challenged with the question; ’Is it possible that the positioning statement for brands is too one dimensional’?
The answer was a resounding Yes; it doesn’t work in today’s consumer experience framework. Brands are about: The experience and the experience needs narrative (a note that you shouldn’t forget the moment of truth and the human interaction delivering the brand).
7/11, TD bank and Mazda all talked about their new view of brand and how their online strategies are driving their brands in 2015. Loved it. Spoke to the heart of the White belief systems and what we are trying to do everyday delivering better and better online experiences, and the challenges in doing that inside the client business. There was strong belief that brands manifest themselves locally and some pretty good examples of how.
The Mobile strategy is based on localization, personalization, a payment solution and loyalty. They have a single member barcode than is scanned in store which gives them the data to act on this. The mobile app is only a year old and already been released 12 times in that year that year. Rewards were launched two weeks ago and the data shows it’s going to be a real accelerator.
A core point of interest was the development. Aside from some product information and locations the app is being designed solely on consumer feedback. The customer is telling them that they want from the app, from the in store experience, and from the product offer. The app is being decided and defined by the people using it, NOT 7/11, which if totally true is cool.
The business is redefining processes to bring in feedback from the platform and telephones, and that feedback can be channeled on a store by store basis to fuel localization and personalization. Speed is the challenge with feedback. No point being asked for a product if it takes you a year or so to bring it to market
Proclaim the MX5 brand doesn’t belong to Mazda anymore it belongs to the driver.
Their purchase funnel research shows them customers now only visit 1.5 dealerships ahead of purchase. 5 years ago it was 4 or 5. Two main drivers. The selection is simply online and consumers hate the dealership experience of being sold to. Mazda claim people are renting cars to test drive in order to avoid the in dealership experience so they are looking at stock there too.
Mazda now believe they have to do a really good job of getting people to want to join the ‘family’ and are figuring out how and where do we have that conversation before the consumer needs to set foot in any dealership. The aim is to foster greater emotional connection between owners and the brand to engender enthusiasm and advocacy. It’s no a single brand message, there are already lots of features to tap into so they refer to a brand essence so the right story can be told in the right channel.
The drastic change in the purchase funnel and impact on the brand led to a what they believed was a dramatic decision for them to move marketing spend to digital. 60 % of Mazda marketing spend is now in digital.Mazda have ‘in market’ KPIs: test drives, brochures etc and also have ‘out of market’ KPI’s as well in terms of content and brand engagement. And Mazda are adding dealer reviews to the main site. The dealers wanted Yelp excluding. The brand said no and suggested they concentrate in servicing the customers in the showroom. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t that straightforward but it’s ballsy. Obviously I’m biased: but Mazda and 7/11 represented some large businesses that were attacking today’s consumer and that’s exciting. Obviously they’re here to promote digital and their own businesses but still good.
The final question was whether anyone should really differentiate between brand and product / promotional marketing. A solid No this time with brand being the preferred combination of the two (yuk). Basically if the experience is the brand, then the holistic experience is the brand goal. It’s where the value lies. That’s true. As is the fact the brand experience often starts online or that consumers interact more with the brand digitally than any other platform. Clients often let their advertising agencies define their brand through their communications or creative platforms. Their internal structures separate consumer experience metrics. If clients turned that upside down and started with the customer service metric I wonder what that would do to the comms plan?
I saw two content panels, both of which felt like 2006 to me but I guess that’s the US where the innate competitiveness of a 300m consumer market keeps the advertising and media market very busy with product and service launches.
Turning customers into Hackers
How do brands use the technology and data that exists to go faster and change was the question? Hire people who love doing what they do and let them do it is kind of the simple answer. Carve off media waste and give it to test and learn: set different KPI’s. Data scientist and managers MUST do actionable insights: so everyone is looking for data unicorns. The Holy Grail is value of time spent for the consumer. I love this term and the challenge it brings to clients and agencies. The data is already there it’s just not organized. We can all make more money with less ad’s, I love this too.
Digital Disruption Do or Die
Just how do we innovate and disrupt? Really good session with a great panel. Innovation determined as: the realisation of value from a new solution to a problem and is game changing also. That’s innovation separated out from a creative idea. Channel Jerry Maguire to “show me the money”. Digital disruption was described separately as displacing an existing market or technology and producing new and worthwhile solutions / products/ services. Easy to see why creative agencies confuse the two.
Once again South By is encouraging us all to think about Incremental innovation: not disruption. Think about matching up supply and demand and ask the question as to why that can’t be done. Push at that. On demand services are skyrocketing globally:
In New York there’s crowd sourced ambulance response service growing. Don’t know about you, but I actually don’t want an enthusiastic amateur giving me the kiss of life until an ambulance arrives – well not unless they’re very good looking.
Decentralization is at the core of what’s happening. Totally agree that’s the key shift that’s underway with a lot of these trends but there’s a warning that regulatory demands will interrupt the disruption space. They will say it’s for safety but it will be driven by lost taxes. We will see.
There was also nice content on why organsiations find it so hard to innovate and disrupt themselves. New entrants pick the fat in a market and go right after it. Incumbents struggle to innovate because businesses rarely eat themselves. An agreement with my personal belief that you’re doing it wrong if you’ve got an innovation department. It’s so much deeper than that. It’s about the people, specifically the curiosity in the people and how you support and organise for that so its cultural. Interesting to see so many large corporations here talking about their frustrations in this space. They say large companies can’t do this because (expressed by a Middle European):
They milk the cow much too long.
They are not capable to see a different way.
They think I am a brand therefore I am a media.
His advice was; go into another market; the impairments don’t exist there and you can throw a big rock into it. Ford are talking about transport and mobility: and showcasing bikes not cars right now. Also some more good advice. Particularly at South By where the almost pathological search and desire for the next new thing is tangible in the air. Business should:
- Challenge the premise that change is happening as quickly as you think it’s is
- Understand the true change that’s taking place
- Understand what future dynamics are really challenging the business.
- Focus to deliver.
I also like the internal challenge of how do you disrupt inside the business and the advice to flood the board with credible academic papers and ask them the question; ‘what’s the strategy to disrupt ourselves’? Or ask he question ‘who can tell me we aren’t susceptible’? Bravery is often rewarded.
Some things I learned today;
30% of Americans are ‘unbanked’ i.e don’t have a bank account. I found that number shockingly high. Hence the 7/11 payment after offer. TD Bank tell us that when consumers are asked about who is going to change the face of banking; they say Google, Apple, Facebook. They don’t say banks. Unsurprising as levels of trust haven’t risen since 2008 crisis.
You can get an app that gives therapy on demand. I’m figuring I can now monetize half my conversations
If you want to see Ryan Gosling at the 3.30pm you need to queue from 8.00am (sorry Prowsey)
Finally: I also learned from the lady at 7/11 exactly which US city is is the Slurpee Capitol of the U.S. (Google will give you the world Capitol)
I’ll give $100 to the first colleague or client who guesses correctly by 23.03.15
Mail the answer to firstname.lastname@example.org
One guess per entrant.
See y’all later