Your marketing is boring and it’s killing the business

It’s almost the end of 2019, and there are still a lot of marketers out there that are too afraid to pour some personality into their strategies. You know the ones I’m talking about, the ones who created and made “corporate speak” a category.

It’s those who tweet or post on LinkedIn using language that the board or some lawyers reviewed first, so it ends up sounding like all things to all people, or like nothing at all, failing to commit to a storyline.

Sure, it de-risks the post and the company, but it also reduces the possibility of a standout, and in turn, long term success for the brand. That might make sense for a quarter to quarter focused team, but for those who want to play the 5-10-15 year game, it’s quite damaging.

Brands are a lot like people. They can be interesting or boring, on a sliding scale, with 00s of shades of grey. You know an interesting person when you see them – they stand out using a few simple traits – loud voice, strong facial expressions, specific clothes, specific/expert/passion topics they speak about, clear attitudes, strong beliefs. All those flavors define them and help them show their inner uniqueness. The boring one will be the polar opposite – low voice, no facial expression, traditional, conservative clothing, talks about the weather, their commute or some other mundane topic that’s low risk, equivocal attitudes, weak or no beliefs they hold/show.

Obviously, no one is 100% interesting or 100% boring. Sometimes we are both at the same time, depending on the audience. For example, when I speak about cryptocurrencies, artificial intelligence or quantum computing around my wife, she tunes out, and tells me outright that I’m boring her and I should change the topic. When I do it with my Romanian IT group, people listen and engage with me on those topics, and soon 2 hours pass without changing the subject.

Interesting people, like interesting brands, are deeply interesting to their target audience and uninteresting to the rest. It keeps the conversation clean – only the ones who care should engage with you and your brand. The rest are time wasters, better have them focus their time and energy elsewhere.

There’s tons of literature out there about how to best do this as a marketer, so I won’t get into that. The problem is not reading it, but putting it into practice, especially in an organization that is inherently risk averse and there are non-marketing gatekeepers on how the brand should materialize externally.

As marketers, we need to let go of our fear of being too out there, too forward or too bold. That fear is what keeps us from being interesting, same as in our personal lives. Sure, there will be people who don’t like the message. Sure, you will make mistakes along the way, and some may argue that this is a sure way to get fired. Not letting go of the fear is the best way to get fired, and not just from the company, but from the entire industry and practice.

Boring marketers have a special place in the world, and that’s not on any top or podium, but in the “looking for a career change category”.

Photo by Faris Mohammed on Unsplash

Brands, Content & the LinkedIn Native Content Ad Exchange

I was at the Grow with Hubspot conference in London, where LinkedIn’s Jason Miller (Senior Content Manager and author of this huge guide) and Kipp Bodnar (Hubspot CMO) held a fireside chat about the future of advertising.

After so many years and given their struggle to bring more than 1 out of 4 members per Quarter on the site, you would expect LinkedIn to showcase some sort of innovation. Especially when the revenue growth seems to have slowed down and the past two quarters have been flat.

LinkedIn Native Content Ad Exchange

If you don’t have inventory on your own website, start expanding somewhere else. Like Google did with the Google Display Network, once it realized the potential beyond search engine marketing.

So why doesn’t LinkedIn do the same with content? Their revenue is driven by the Talent Solutions, accounting for 62% of the Net Revenues this last quarter and their Marketing Solutions account for only 19%. There is a huge untapped market here because marketers have a problem:

Millions of pieces of content are published every day, but there are very few trusted ad exchanges where brands can easily place authoritative content that positions them as industry leaders. 

LinkedIn has the brand and the influence to solve this problem as a Marketing Solutions product. Just imagine if you could bid for your content to appear on the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Forbes, FT.com all on the same exchange. LinkedIn would provide the platform for it, share the revenues with the publishers that insert the embedding code and the brands would pay for the exposure.

LinkedIn can build this as an iteration of Pulse or buy one ad exchange / native advertising company, but they need to grow their advertising revenue base because with it, they will grow their brand and with that, the users will return more often.

What do you think about this? Would it be something that a marketing person could benefit from or should we stick to the media agency contacting the media company model?

Later edit: Recent analysis points to the fact that LinkedIn needs to pivot towards diversifying revenue sources to hedge against labor market risks.

Photo via Michael Ruiz

Land Rover UK underperformed with its #CanAndWill campaign

A friend of mine sent me the I can and I will integrated campaign signed by Land Rover UK. Wonderful concept, great video and script execution, but I felt it could have done more on the media exposure side of things. I mean, just look at those videos (new tab, don’t worry), they have huge viral potential if people identify with them.

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(screencap from www.canandwill.co.uk)

But in order to do that, people need to see them – on Youtube, in special media projects, through ads and get traction.

Just look at these views numbers:

  1. Land Rover: Can and Will – 182,000 views
  2. Can and Will: Mike Goody – 174,000 views
  3. Carl Hester: A winning performer – 6,100 views
  4. Can and Will: Richard E. Grant – Relentless – 1,700 views
  5. Can and Will: Ellie Simmonds’ spirit of defiance – 1,800 views
  6. Can and Will: Beth Moses – 1,200 views
  7. Can and Will: Gwyn Haslock – 11,700 views
  8. Bude Pool: The resilience of community – 1,100 views
  9. Bear Grylls Can and Will reach the summit – 2,900 views

Total: 382, 500 views for a UK digital video campaign

It’s like they only invested in the first two ads and left the rest up to the internet to decide. I wonder how much they invested in the production of the latter and how much they actually put up for media buying. If you invest in high quality inspirational videos, you might as well promote them to reach at least 1-2 million views, otherwise you have little or no digital impact with them.

Sure, they’re great TV ads, but they could be so much more. All it takes is a bit more strategy. In the mean time, let’s keep an eye out for the Invictus Games, 10-14 September, where Land Rover will be an official sponsor.