When will marketers and agencies call ‘transparency’ for what it really is…

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There is no other industry in the world more hooked on the drug of jargon, than the marketing industry.

We are constantly inventing meaningless new terms for the same old thing. For example, earned media = publicity. Omni-channel = multi-channel. And so on…

One reason for this, is that people new to marketing (digital marketers) believe marketing was only invented five days ago and everything new to them is new to the world. My friend Drayton Bird demonstrated this in NZ recently.

Another example of our jargon-based mentality is the word the industry has recently manufactured for “dishonesty“. Its use reflects appallingly on the whole marketing industry. Rather than admitting that the industry, particularly the digital marketing segment, is chock-full of cyber-hustlers, liars and money-grabbing spivs, we’ve avoided stating the truth and instead, created a buzzword.

In the marketing industry “dishonesty” is now known as “transparency“. And this buzzword is being flogged to death in talkfests as the amazing solution to dishonesty, even though dishonesty is never mentioned.

In his weekly newsletter, Bob Hoffman recently wrote that Transparency is the phoney flavour of the month. He highlighted how talking about transparency, rather than transparency itself, is all that the industry is doing, giving these examples:

As Bob asked – Was there a parade? Did you have a Transparency Eve party?

As we all now know folks, the major publisher platforms and sellers of digital advertising have been lying for years. And now they’ve been caught with their hands in the till. But instead of admitting they are dishonest, conducting mass sackings of the people involved and cleaning up the system, they’ve created a buzzword – transparency.

Now everyone in the industry must worship at the altar of transparency, using the George Costanza belief system- it’s not a lie if you believe it.

And the industry prophets deem we must have even more transparency. A whole transparency industry is spawning. An Institute of Transparency will be created. Seminars, white papers, thought leadership and books will be published about transparency.

Explainer videos and transparency personas will abound. And like the cyber-hustlers who call themselves Linkfluencers or Socialfluencers, there will now be Transparinfluencers to guide you on your transparency journey.

Once enough noise is made to completely blur the truth, transparency will transform into the goddess of honesty. All the negative publicity will disappear. (or should that be, all negative earned media will disappear?).

Reminds me of the mindless followers of The Holy Gourd of Jerusalem in The Life of Brian.

Hallelujah – it’s a transparency miracle!

Transparency – it’s a miracle…

And like many things digital, nothing will change. The industry will continue to remain dishonest, sorry, I mean transparent. And the digital publishers and sellers will go back to what they do best, making money at the expense of their advertisers.

I think I’ll go watch Brian again, just to cheer me up – where’s my VCR?

Transparently connect to me: www.linkedin.com/in/malcolmauld

Retailers use innovative response to arrival of Amazon…

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The arrival of Amazon in Australia has created a bit of a media frenzy. Some of the over-reaction would have you think the world is coming to an end, as Chicken Little believed centuries ago.

Amazon is coming, the end of retail is nigh…

Yet a day after the announcement that Amazon was open for business, some media turned against Amazon. Apparently the prices Amazon is charging for many electronic goods are way more than competitors are offering both in-store and online. Amazon is not the cheapest in many categories.

This is a reflection of how online stores like Amazon are damaging brands by commoditising them and reducing them to compete mainly on price, rather than other differentiators. But that’s another discussion.

However, there is a group of retailers using innovative technology to combat Amazon. Though the cyber-hustlers would claim the retailers have lost their mind. After all, this is the digital world.

These retailers are using printed catalogues delivered directly into letterboxes to generate Christmas sales. Many of them are also advertising on television and radio, as well as in press (inserts and ads).

What are they thinking?

Here are the brands that have reached my family’s letterbox in the last two days:

  • Woolworths
  • Big W
  • Coles
  • IGA
  • Supercheap Auto
  • Repco
  • Priceline Pharmacy
  • Harvey Norman
  • Officeworks
  • Target
  • Bunnings
  • Bing Lee
  • Pillow Talk
  • Zamel’s Jewellers

Retail catalogues in my home…

I wonder, given the whole world has gone 150% digital, why retailers would use the technology that impacts all five senses (print), rather than the technology that only impacts three senses (digital)?

Maybe it’s because online sales in Australia will only be 7.3% of all retail sales this year? Or to put it another way, 92.7% of all retail sales will not be online this year. So digital marketing is the equivalent of playing in the kiddies pool in the big game of marketing.

Maybe it’s because they know that as a result of looking at printed catalogues, people shop online, as well as directly in-store.

Maybe it’s because they know catalogues and inserts work, as they are the secret weapon of digital start-ups.

Maybe it’s because they listen to customers rather than cyber-hustlers when it comes to running a profitable business?

Who knows?

But I gotta go now and do my Christmas shopping – where are my catalogues?

Amazing automated marketing message wows customers…

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I’ve recently returned from a trip to the USA, where among other things, my family and I rafted and hiked in the Grand Canyon for a week.

I first did the trip 30 years ago and I have to admit, the 10 mile hike to get up and out of the Canyon, was a tad more brutal this time round.

Brutal

A tad tougher hike this time…

Within a couple of days of returning I received an email survey from OARS, the company with which we rafted – I highly recommend them by the way. I dutifully completed the survey and thought nothing more of it.

But yesterday, I received this automated marketing message.

OARS 2

It’s a hand-written thank-you card, personally signed by all the OARS crew who looked after us on our rafting adventure. It is automatically sent by the crew to each customer, after they complete their trip.

OARS 1

My kids thought it was wonderful to hear from them and read every word on the card. It immediately brought back some fabulous memories and we all started talking about the different characters on the trip. The kids also asked if they could send cards back to each of the crew too.

The card now sits in a prominent place in our kitchen, for all to see.

It reminded me of a local hairdresser in my suburb. She is a very smart businesswoman who regularly wins small business awards and drives a very flash Mercedes sports car.

Twice a year she gets each of her staff to send hand-written cards to their clients. Each card includes a personal comment based on what the staff knows about their client. The owner calls these cards “wow” cards, because when the clients get them, the first thing they say is “wow“. And the clients always talk about the cards when they return to the salon.

How many of your clients go “wow” when they receive your automated marketing messages? I suspect very few.

So if you’re wasting money on expensive marketing automation software to try and fake authenticity, maybe you should spend less on computers and more on your customers and staff?

Why not send genuine messages of thanks to the people who pay your salary? Cause I seriously doubt your customers ever get as excited by fake personalised computer-generated emails sent from a team, as they do to real messages.

Who’d have thought hey – old-fashioned automated mail, packs more “wow” than customised automated content delivered as pixels?

Gotta go now – am off to the newsagent to buy some postcards for the kids to send…

raft

More than ever, the marketing industry needs genuine expertise…

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As I’ve written before dear reader, you don’t become a brain surgeon hanging around the casualty ward. And you definitely don’t become a CMO hanging around a marketing department – unless you’re prepared to hang around for a lifetime.

You need to invest in self-improvement to really get ahead. And that doesn’t mean reading an (alleged) definitive guide on all-things digital. Or drinking in the cyber-hustler kool-aid that pretends to be the magic elixir of marketing.

As you well know, trade skills are passed on through the master-apprentice relationship. The master of the craft trains and educates the apprentice, to get them skilled enough to work in the trade.

It used to be the same in business. I went through a business apprenticeship. It even included when to use ‘regards’ versus ‘best regards’ to sign-off a letter. Unfortunately business apprenticeships have disappeared, while in the digital marketing industry, expertise has been devalued, and often dismissed.

I’ve never seen so many instant self-appointed experts. If you can type on a keyboard you’re a content marketer. Pay a ghost-writer in a third-world country to write a white paper for you and call yourself a thought leader. Even worse, publish a ‘definitive guide’ (that is not definitive) and you’re an influencer, or some self-styled crazy label like linkfluencer, socialfluencer or ninja!

In the digital marketing world, you just sprout new buzzwords for existing and proven marketing techniques, now being used online, or work in a digital business that’s name has very few vowels, and you’re a self-appointed bloody genius.

Well that was the case until these last few months, as things are beginning to change…

The pendulum has started shifting in marketing. The digital chooks are coming home to roost – evidenced by recent revelations across the digital marketing world.

Digital chooks are coming home to roost…

Here are just a few examples:

  • Agencies overcharged so much for programmatic advertising, they’re now refunding hundreds of millions of dollars to advertisers
  • Media agencies and digital publishers admit they cannot provide accurate data regarding who is viewing ads, or even where ads are being published
  • YouTube admits its content/ads appear on terrorism and hate sites
  • Facebook admits 80% of viewed videos weren’t – viewed that is
  • Facebook admits it has more than 270 million fake accounts
  • The fake internet, where sites earn ad revenue by using fake content and fake followers, is the fastest growing business category in the world
  • Instagrammers admit using stock images and buying fake followers, so they can get “influencer” contracts from naive advertisers
  • Facebook, Twitter and Google grossly underestimated Russian propaganda delivered through their sites
  • Twitter wants to sell, but nobody wants to buy, as it still hasn’t turned a profit and usage is stagnant – active usage is once per month

Every day there is more news about the problems in the digital marketing world. Interestingly, Professor Scott Galloway who teaches marketing at NYU, blames much of Facebook’s problems on the naivety and inexperience of its staff. Yet it was Zuckerberg who made the ridiculous statement years ago that “young people are just smarter“.

I’ll leave that one out there for you to contemplate dear reader.

One can only assume it’s the lack of experience causing all this industry grief – surely it wouldn’t be an ethical issue?

Inexperience hurting the digital industry…

I’ve always advised my staff and students to perpetually furnish their minds to help improve their lot. Read classic marketing books (because the principles haven’t changed) as well as contemporary ones. Read books that have nothing to do with marketing, visit art galleries, photographic exhibitions, go to the theatre, experience other creative industries for inspiration. Or to be digitally correct, #inspo.

The fastest way to learn how to get better at marketing, rather than working for years to get hands-on experience, is to pick the brains of the masters – those who’ve tasted blood. They can give you the real short-cuts you need to know, certainly more than the cyber-hustlers with their loony listicles, like “10 killer new social media lead magnet miracles that have rewritten the rules of marketing and will blow your mind“.

The only problem is, there are very few experienced executives, let alone  opportunities to learn from them. Industry conferences are full of well-meaning “speakers” showcasing their successes – though it’s rare to see failures. If you listen to any marketing seminar these days, you’d think there had never been any failures in the digital marketing industry – despite the problems outlined above.

Yet to navigate successfully, you should always sail with the mariner who knows where the reefs are located. They’ve been shipwrecked, so know the dangers. You want to work with, and learn from, experienced people who have made the odd mistake while gaining their expertise.

Sail with those who have been shipwrecked

Though I do suspect we’re going to hear more and more about failures, as the latest buzzword “transparency” permeates the industry.

I’m off to buy another book – Bob Hoffman’s Badmen. No listicles, just bare truth.

P.S. For those in Oz who want better marketing results, or fast-track their young marketing talent, get along to Drayton Bird’s final event. His brilliantly successful career spans more than four decades, including 20+ in digital marketing, so you’re bound to pick up some valuable ideas – and enjoy a drink or two with this master marketer.

Simple mathematics reveals Facebook engagement is less than letterbox leaflets…

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For a couple of years now dear reader, I have been presenting the mathematics of Facebook at marketing events. Each time I invite members of the audience to challenge them and put me straight, to make sure the numbers are correct. But nobody questions the numbers. They just nod in agreement.

Recently I’ve also replied to sales pitches from alleged Facebook experts in my inbox, and replied by inviting their assistance – with no response. But as you know, marketing automation doesn’t allow you to fake sincerity. So I don’t know if my messages have been received and ignored, or not received at all, due to the weaknesses prevalent in most marketing automation systems. That is, when you reply to a message, it gets lost in cyber-space because humans do not monitor the computers.

One issue I have with the numbers, is that I have to rely on Facebook – take it at Facevalue so to speak – when it comes to statistics. And as one of the most dishonest brands when it comes to user statistics, the numbers given out by Facebook always feel dodgy. After all FB regularly claims to have more users in an age demographic, than the living population of that demographic.

Last week folks, Facebook announced its fake accounts to be 270 million – way more than it alleged only a week earlier. Many suspect the real number of fake accounts to be much higher. It’s why so many marketers refer to FB as:

The figure for inactive accounts appears to be unknown. I have at least 3 inactive accounts that are still sitting idle and get the occasional view – according the the FB bots that notify me.

Interestingly, every teenager I know – mates of my kids – has at least one fake FB account. They use the account to log-in to games and other sites that force you to use FB to log-in. The kids don’t post to the account. The account names are fictitious. They only use the accounts for log-ins. So they are active accounts, just not socially active. Who knows how many millions of these false accounts exist around the planet? One can only assume they are included in FB’s statistics of active accounts?

So here’s the maths for you – all numbers are alleged, and taken from reputable online sources:

Total monthly active accounts = 2,000,000,000

Less fake accounts = 270,000,000

Less business accounts = 100,000,000

Less ad blockers (the single biggest consumer protest in history) = 700,000,000

Leaves alleged active accounts = 930,000,000

Percentage of users an ad on FB can reach is way less than 5%, but say 10%.

Advertising Reach = 93,000,000

Maximum engagement (Forrester and others) = 0.7%, but say 1%

Active engagement = 930,000

930,000/2,000,000,000 = 0.00465

So average active engagement = less than half of one percent!!!

This is less than an unaddressed letterbox leaflet.

That’s not so say FB won’t pay for itself, but it’s not viable for all brands or categories.

I have a number of clients who find it pays and others that don’t – it’s horses for courses. And FB is rarely the primary media channel for doing business. It’s just another channel you test and learn, then use if it works profitably.

I welcome any input into the numbers please. Also suggest you read the Ad Contrarian, Bob Hoffman for some more facts and revelations.

Gotta go – need to post this blog to reach the handful of humans who will actively engage with it on FB…

How Parcel Force fails its customers in the digital world…

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Here’s a very good lesson in how not to treat a customer…

The following email was sent to me by a colleague, who was waiting on an urgent 48-hour air shipment from Parcel Force.

Just a heads-up folks – if the first words a customer reads on your email are “Do not reply to this email” you are in fact saying “we don’t give a stuff about you”!!

PLEASE DO NOT REPLY TO THIS EMAIL.

Thank you for contacting Parcelforce Worldwide.

Our Customer service email team will aim to reply within 4 working days. The email team working hours are – Mon-Fri: 8am to 6:00pm

Here is a bit of information with regards to deliveries that you may find useful:

  • Deliveries are usually made between 7am to 6:00pm Monday to Friday.
  • Deliveries on a Saturday are only made where the sender has chosen and paid for a Saturday delivery service. These deliveries are usually made between 7am to 1pm.
  • For Customer alerts, tracking enquiries, to price a delivery and how to pay a customs charges please refer to our website at: www.parcelforce.com

If you need to speak with someone due to the urgency of your enquiry, please contact our Customer Service Team on 03448 004466 and they will be able to assist.

Thanks
Parcelforce Worldwide Customer Services

The lessons from this abomination are:

  1. Never start your email with “Please do not reply to his message…” unless part of the sentence says “Please do not reply directly to this message, but contact us as follows, blah, blah…”
  2. Never aim to reply in 4 working days to a customer request? WTF are you thinking? Imagine a customer walking into your store with a question and you say, “please wait here for about 4 days, while we don’t give a shit about you”. You don’t aim to reply, you will reply immediately.
  3. Never use a typist to write your copy – use copywriters:

This sentence implies you might find the deliveries to be useful: “Here is a bit of information with regards to deliveries that you may find useful:”

It should read something like:Here is some useful information regarding deliveries:

4. Never sign an email from a team or Customer Service Teams. Teams don’t send emails – individuals do.

5. Never say “Customer service email team” – it just doesn’t make sense. An email team? Are there hordes of junior executives waiting around to send emails 4 days after getting one in an inbox? Sign your emails from an individual and make it easy to reply to the individual.

I suggest the CEO of Parcel Force does some mystery shopping and learn what it’s like to be a customer. Maybe then the company will wake up to itself and provide real customer service. I’m sure if they keep aiming to reply to problems within 4 working days, there won’t be much work left for anyone to do.

We’ll aim to reply if we’re still in business…

How a simple incentive made me the owner of Rebel the Frenchie…

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If there is one constant in marketing, regardless of media channel or product category, it is this:

A relevant incentive will always pay for itself…

Here’s one of my most recent examples. About three years ago, my young teenage daughter (and her brother) started hounding me (excuse the pun) to get a puppy. “It’s not fair dad, you and mum had dogs when you were kids” they’d use as argument. It was a hard claim to counter.

As we don’t have a side or rear fence, and we back onto a lagoon, I wasn’t keen to get a pet of any kind. We already have ducks, pelicans, water hens and other birds aplenty, as well as Eastern Water Dragons and Blue-tongue lizards. But persist they did.

And my daughter didn’t want just any dog. She wanted a French Bulldog. Now if you don’t know what a French Bulldog looks like, just check Instagram. They are the K9 equivalent of the Kardashians when it comes to followers. Though unlike the Kardashians, these pups reek of cuteness and are amazingly photogenic.

They also happen to cost a small fortune. You could move to France, rent a farm and raise your own litter of pups, for what you pay for one of these bundles of joy in Australia. But I digress.

In her quest to convince me, my daughter bought me a French Bulldog coffee cup, a pug calendar (pugs are almost as cute), even a French Bulldog phone cover. But I stood strong and didn’t wilt under the onslaught, having never been a fan of house dogs.

my new favourite coffee mug…

At the end of first term in 2016 my daughter failed her maths subject terribly – despite my tuition. I think she has her mother’s maths genes – she believes buying something on sale saves you money, versus not buying it at all.

So I gave my daughter an incentive. “If you finish the year with a score of more than 75%, we can get the puppy”. I reckoned I was on a good thing, but you’ve probably already guessed the outcome to this story, dear reader. Here’s part of the text message my daughter sent me in November last year – it’s not easy to argue with facts:

Looks like we’re getting a dog…

So now we have a 12 month old puppy named Rebel, and she believes every piece of furniture is a chew toy. But she’s sooo cute…

As in life, so it is in business – offer your prospects an incentive to do what you want them to do, when you want them to do it, and you’ll increase the number of prospects who do – what you want, that is.

This doesn’t mean flog discounts at every opportunity – just give people an extra reason to act. Here are a few very successful examples to demonstrate the point:

A free pair of slippers for every home loan applicant…

A free drink at the bar for completing a survey about the hotel’s function room…

And who would have thought this would be a successful incentive – a free box of toilet paper and a 30 day free trial?

Earlier this year, my daughter topped her maths class and had the audacity to ask for a second Frenchie. Given I’m the human who most follows Rebel around with a plastic bag scoopin-the-poop, my response was, well let’s just say, it was a tad “disincentivising”.

Time for a nap…

Connect with me anytime: https://www.linkedin.com/in/malcolmauld/

Why there’s really no reason to ever use the term “content marketing”…

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Ever since marketing emerged from the dark to the middle ages in the 1980’s, computers and databases have been essential marketing tools. Data’s been driving marketing since the invention of desktop computers, as it became easier for marketers to track the way customers and prospects responded to their messages.

Data-driven marketing is not new…

Any marketer who has worked in the industry since last century, is aware that the process of communicating regularly with your customers and prospects already has a name. It’s been used for at least 40 years and is known as your customer and prospect contact strategy. And it’s supported by a touchpoint analysis to determine the best times and channels for making contact – analogue or digital.

Data and timing are key to success…

For example, if you sell cars, there are two cycles of communication within your strategy. The first cycle is linked to the date of purchase of the vehicle. The messages cover topics such as: service dates, warranty information, possibly insurance if it was part of the sale price, customer satisfaction surveys, product recall (if required) and other “content” related to the purchase date.

The messages are delivered by mail, phone, email and sms. Most of the messages have been automated since the early 1980’s and delivered without too much human involvement, as they are triggered by the purchase date. Who would have thought hey – marketing automation existed in the 1980’s? Listening to the digi-toddlers, you’d think they invented data and automated marketing.

The second cycle of messaging is related to the time of year, not the vehicle purchase date. Message topics include: vehicle accessory offers, service offers, trade-in deals, new vehicle launches, sponsorship announcements, charity events, merchandise offers, brand news (or in today’s vernacular) brand stories.

The “content” is delivered in all sorts of formats through different channels – mail, phone, sms, email, websites, apps, social, as DVDs, USBs, PDFs, booklets or books, printed and digital newsletters, videos, customised invitations, branded merchandise and more. Some messages are even delivered automatically, as their content is based on the prevailing time of year – a seasonal newsletter for example.

Welcome to Subaru ownership…

Customer data has always driven (excuse the pun) automotive communications. For example, when we launched Lexus our research indicated owners liked the opera. So we arranged a sponsorship of the parking station at the Sydney Opera House. Lexus owners had free reserved parking near the entrance inside the parking station. Mercedes, BMW and other owners had to find a park in the bowels of the parking station, after first driving past the Lexus branded car park spots. The idea traveled internationally.

Lexus owners get parking privileges

We learned the average time Lexus owners spent going to or from work, was less than 30 minutes each way. So when the annual Federal Budget was brought down, we recorded overnight, a report on the Budget. It was 40 minutes long and we published it on a cassette tape – 20 minutes each side. The tapes were sent to owners the morning the Budget was brought down, so the owners could listen to the report as they drove to and from work. Now a link is emailed and posted on social media and the marketing team tracks who listens to the report.

And the way we determined the best stations on which to run radio advertising, was simple. Whenever a Lexus was brought in for a service, the customer service person would note the radio station the owner was listening to and recorded this data on the customer database. Gotta luv the data scientists working in car servicing.

Data scientists tracked Lexus owner’s radio station habits

If you’ve worked on automotive brands you’ll also know the best time to make a trade-in offer to a luxury vehicle owner is triggered by one data point only – the finance lease expiry date. You can make the best offer on the planet, but if the lease is not due to expire, the owner will not go through the hassle of breaking their lease to get the new car. You are wasting your money throwing content at them to try and convince them otherwise.

It’s why we had dozens of different mail packs, each designed around data linked to where the prospect was in their ownership lifecycle. These were mailed automatically using relevant triggers to activate the mailing.

Aaah data-driven marketing 1980’s and 1990’s style. What’s old is new again, again.

So to repeat myself, the term for this ongoing contact with your customers (and prospects) has always been called a customer and prospect contact strategy. It doesn’t need a new label, so there is no need to call it content marketing.

And there is absolutely no reason to change the name for this way of communicating with prospects and customers. Just because there are a couple of new digital channels to deliver messages and communicate with (or should that be engage with) customers/prospects, as well as some extra tracking and distribution tools, doesn’t mean we rename a decades-old marketing process.

Delivering relevant data-driven messages to customers and prospects in different channels is not new!

Publishing and sharing “content” is as old as the hills – it’s how marketers have communicated with customers and prospects for decades. The only difference today is that allegedly, the more content you publish, the better the chance you’ll be found online. Of course, if you have a strong brand and the punters search for your brand, rather than using a generic search term, your investment in “content” is usually a waste of money.

Some may argue you need content to build your brand. Well duh. That’s exactly what brands have been doing successfully for decades. And there is no empirical evidence to support the false claims that we have to tell brand stories as part of content marketing to engage customers. You cannot fake sincerity using jargon.

I’ve yet to find any consumer who craves a brand story, let alone more marketing content. At best, they just want useful information to help them make a buying decision, like they’ve always done. Although, as any marketer knows, the vast majority of buying decisions are unconsidered, so why are we pummeling already infobesity-ridden consumers, with all the extra content?

So I ask you to please stop using the term “content marketing”. It is superfluous, has no meaning, causes confusion, and it offers absolutely nothing new to the existing communication process, let alone the marketing lexicon.

Worse still, the marketers and agency types who have drunk the content marketing kool-aid, just get angry when you challenge their belief. Some turn into trolls and attack you for daring to be different and not follow the FOMO pack. Sad really.

So for the good health of these poor naive sods, please stop saying “content marketing” and then we can all just get on with marketing – sans buzzwords.

Looks like content is no longer king…

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Republished at the request of nervous marketers…

One of the most common conversations in marketing circles over the last couple of years, has been how to replicate the King Content hustle and flog a fledgling content marketing agency for an outrageous amount of money, making oneself filthy rich.

Hardly a marketer I’ve spoken with could believe Isentia paid $48 million for this unproven content marketing business. “Where is the value” everyone asked? Well it looks like there wasn’t much – value that is.

Recently, as most of you are probably aware, Isentia announced it was shutting down the King Content brand after a $4.4 million loss in the previous financial year. Mumbrella reported Isentia wrote down $37.8 million and close offices around the world.

And as reported in Mumbrella today, Isenta has now written off the purchase price as part of a profit downgrade, which it advised in a statement to the ASX. It has also decided to get out of content marketing. It certainly didn’t get anything out of content marketing, so to speak.

It reminds me of the first dot.con when big ad agencies rushed around like headless chooks overpaying for website production studios that had fancy names. I sat in one meeting where a young kid with a very small company, but building websites for some well known brands, turned down a $1,000,000 cheque. He wanted more, despite the cheque being more than twice his annual revenue.

Suffice to say, after the dot.con collapsed, nobody knocked on his door and his business is still about the size if was 17 years ago and he’s still just making websites and apps.

But content marketing is an industry in itself, though Gartner’s Hype Cycle already has the alleged industry on the slide into the trough of disillusionment.

Which brings me to a speech I delivered last month at the NZ Direct Marketing Conference. As I’m curious by nature I asked the audience (about 200 marketers and agency types) the following questions:

  • Who wants every brand they come in contact with to deliver more advertising and an increasing volume of content to them at every opportunity possible?
  • Who wants more email in their inbox?
  • Who wants more notifications on their mobile?
  • Who woke this morning craving relationships with consumer brands? Can’t wait to read the thought leadership on toilet roll brands?
  • Who has walked out of a retail store or café because you didn’t get served?

The answers were fascinating.

  • Not one marketer in the room wanted more content delivered to them by marketers.
  • Not one marketer in the room wanted more email.
  • Not one marketer in the room wanted more notifications.
  • Not one marketer in the room woke up thinking about brands, let alone wanting relationships with them.
  • Every marketer in the room had walked out of a store because a salesperson hadn’t tried to sell them something.

This is fascinating stuff folks. After all, if marketers and advertisers don’t want what the content marketers and the cyber-hustlers are flogging, why do they believe their customers want it?

Taking their answers once step further, the whole audience believed the premise of content marketing – that brands should deliver content at every opportunity possible to anybody who remotely comes in to contact with the brand, but should not try to sell anything – is complete and utter bullshit.

Not one executive in that audience believed, by show of hand, that marketers should be doing content marketing. As consumers, marketers hate content marketing.

So if the industry doesn’t believe in content marketing, why are marketers wasting shareholder’s precious investment on it??? It appears that content marketing has rapidly become a punch-line to marketing jokes.

But one has to wonder, why didn’t the management at Isentia ask these questions to protect their shareholder’s funds???

And why do I have images of the emperor’s new clothes, and lemmings jumping off cliffs???

Gotta go. I have an idea for an anti-content marketing, content marketing business. You can check it out here: www.thecontentbrewery.com

One of the world’s most successful B2B campaigns – but would it work today?

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Today on Throwback Thursday, I thought I’d share one of the world’s most successful B2B direct mail campaigns from 21 years ago – and see if it would still stand the test of time.

It was created for The Observatory Hotel in Sydney, to promote the hotel’s conference facilities. It generated close to 85% response rate and 15 unsolicited letters of congratulations from executives who received the mailing. Wouldn’t you like your prospects to thank you for advertising to them?

The campaign paid for itself with qualified leads within four hours of being delivered. It also won marketing awards around the world.

Here are some of the elements:

The mailing was almost the size of a shirt box.

The perfect conference is just a coffee break away…

Inside the mailing there was a coffee plunger, fresh ground Italian coffee, a gold-leaf bone-china coffee mug, the world’s first ever virtual tour of a hotel – stored on a floppy disk. (ask you parents if you’re not familiar with a floppy disk).

Involvement devices…

There was also a letter and brochure with a very powerful offer – FREE lunch at the hotel. Never underestimate the power of a FREE lunch or drink to motivate response.

Here’s the floppy disk:

World’s first virtual tour of a hotel…

I suspect that if you ran it again today, you would get a very similar response. Certainly it would do way better than an email or online advertising campaign. And you wouldn’t need any social selling or alleged thought leadership to support it.

There are a number of reasons for its stunning success:

  • You cannot avoid the mailing, it’s the size of a shirt box
  • It has lots of involvement devices to grab the recipient’s attention
  • A world first – the first ever virtual tour of a hotel, delivered on a floppy disk
  • A strong and appealing offer – free lunch at the hotel
  • The message content respected the reader

Those who didn’t respond immediately, were followed-up by telephone and this added to the overall result. The mailing is fun because of the way it involves the recipient. Usually the recipient’s gatekeeper will participate when it is opened, so there is discussion around the mailing.

People like to receive 3D mailings, as there is implied value in them. Even more they like to receive them when they offer worthwhile incentives and involvement devices.

In today’s digital jargon, this is known as engaging with your customers.

The only change you would make to the mailing if you sent it today, would be to put the virtual tour on a customised website – using a PURL – so you could track the response by individual. The site could include video testimonials from happy clients. And it could demonstrate the conference facilities or destination in use – different themes, size of events and more.

So if you work in B2B, don’t ignore the most powerful channel for generating responses – direct mail. Who knows, like The Observatory Hotel, your prospects may even thank you for it?

Connect to me: https://www.linkedin.com/in/malcolmauld/