Category Archives: Insights
First up I need to say that I’ve never wrestled professionally – although many an old mattress was laid on the garden floor, and used as a WrestleMania ring mat.
A good few years before football, music, video games and movies would enamor a teenaged me – my interest and passion was for the entertainment sport of Wrestling. In fact, I watched my first WCW Main Event aged 7.
It’s only when you look back on experiences, to use a phrase from Steve Jobs, that you can really connect the dots.
I have come to realise that the lessons I learnt from the men and women of the WCW and WWF wrestling companies prepared me for agency life and the role of a leader.
You have to be both the hero and the villain
The very best wrestlers, and those not so good, would flip-flop between hero and villain status. This well-known trick to keep characters and storylines fresh is one that should resonate with leaders within marketing agencies. Even the greatest of wrestling legends have to play the bad guy: Hulk Hogan famously went ‘bad’ during his WCW days to become Hollywood Hulk Hogan, as part of the N.W.O (New World Order) group.
Embracing the fact that you can’t be popular all the time is a key truth of agency life. Sometimes you’ll have to make decisions, communicate change, or implement processes that will turn you from hero to villain in an instant. Remembering you will hear the cheer of the gathering crowd once again will keep you sane during these times.
A little showmanship goes a long way
The best wrestlers are true entertainers, some with elaborate face paint and pyrotechnics as part of their show; others able to turn a simple elbow drop into a dance and spectacle worthy of the Royal Dance Company.
In agency life, colleagues look for inspiration and motivation the same way as a wrestler trying to get up from a missed top-rope body splash. Clients crave theatre and entertainment in pitches, much like the crowd counting along with the wrestler laying a 10-punch combo on a forlorn opponent. Think about your agency – I bet there are plenty of examples of showmanship on display. And I bet it would be a dull place without it.
You can’t be the champion forever
Ric Flair is a 24 time champion, spanning various divisions and companies. His shortest title reign was a matter of hours. Whilst that example is extreme, it sets a valuable lesson in your expectation of success working in agencies.
Clients, much like title belts, come and go. You might have won your last title fight as the incumbent agency but what if the new Marketing Director is a fan of your title rival? For no good reason you can be stripped of the gold around your waste before the next main event.
Internally, you can’t hold the employee of the month title forever. Your colleagues all train as hard as you, so it’s only right they get their hands on the prize too.
One day you win a pitch and feel like a champ. The next day your finance director rejects a budget increase that you’ve been wrangling for months. You can’t be the champion forever.
Changing character is necessary
Mick Foley is a veteran wrestler who has played many characters over his 30-year career. To stay relevant and fresh, Mick has invented novel situations and storylines for his character over the years.
Watching Foley reinvent himself so frequently was a little baffling to me as a teenager. Looking back now I see that the chameleon act I saw in the wrestling world is replicated in my working life now.
Agencies change proposition to ride current trends and expectations – a few years ago it was all about Social Media, in recent years it has been Big Data.
People also change and pivot with the times: graphic designers turned into UX experts, PR execs transformed into social media specialists and account service suits became digital strategists.
Like wrestling, trying on a different mask helps to ensure you remain fresh, relevant and importantly: stay ahead of the roaring crowd’s expectations.
Overall, entertainment is key
If I had to choose one key thing I learnt from watching wrestling as a kid that has carried over to my professional life, it’s this: entertainment is key.
People pay hundreds of dollars to be cramped in with thousands of other wrestling fans, in awe of the showmanship, pyrotechnics, grand entrances and highflying top rope moves.
Like wrestling, our clients expect a certain level of entertainment from the agency/client relationship. Chances are, the monthly meeting with ‘the agency’ is one of the best things in the diary that week. Turning up with good results is one thing but making the meeting fun; making the client feel special and leaving them with a sense of awe should be the ultimate aim from all meetings. This doesn’t always happen. Again, just like wrestling – a few bad shows and the people will stop paying to see you. It’s really as simple as that.
My favourite wrestler growing up was a guy called Steve Borden, better known as Sting. 6ft 2inches tall, 250lb – his wrestling debut was the year of my birth. He has held a total of 21 titles over the years. He has re-invented himself several times, playing the hero and villain when required and he always entertained the crowd; entrances from the arena rafters, to taking on entire groups single handedly.
I guess if he wasn’t wrestling, he could very well be leading a marketing agency.
There’s no need to talk too much on the recent algorithm change by Facebook; a thousand blogs have covered that already. In short, Facebook recently made a significant change to how it determines how many people see content from brand pages. No longer can you rely on the fact that a fair portion of your ‘fans’ will see your content. In fact, brands have seen organic reach drop as low as 0.5% of their total fan base.
Mark Zuckerberg now answers to shareholders and making money sits atop his priority list, somewhere alongside connecting the world and user experience. Make no mistake, Facebook is now a juggernaut corporate entity in every sense. This means that brands are left with a few extra things to consider when thinking about their Facebook marketing efforts.
Pay-to-acquire and pay-to-reach is leaving marketing managers with a bitter taste in their mouths, and some would say rightfully so. Brands have invested significantly in social strategies, community management and acquiring fans through advertising, giveaways, campaigns and competitions. Now they have to invest even more to get their message in front of people.
In terms of audience and engagement from users, Facebook still leads the way by a considerable margin. Here are a few simple tips for maximising your Facebook marketing spend in light of the recent changes to the algorithm.
1. Using your own data will save you money
Time and time again I notice a significantly reduced cost-per-acquisition when uploading a custom data set for targeting purposes. Facebook allows you to upload email addresses from your database into the advertising module, which then locates those people based on the email address matching a registered Facebook account. Serving these users an ad this way is typically far more effective given they already know at least something of your brand.
2. Find look-a-likes based on your data
Once you’ve found users from your database, you can build out a look-a-like pool of similar users – based on demographics and interests, with the goal of attracting people similar to those you already attract – making the barrier to acquisition somewhat lower than that of less specific manual targeting.
2. Go hard or go home
Saying ‘Happy Friday’ and posting a cat meme is all well and good for business-as-usual content, and if your aspirations are to just be one of the pack – but if you want Facebook to work hard for the dollars you’re spending, equal investment in quality content production and planning is needed. Custom and branded images, content pillars and key themes should be developed and revised on a regular ongoing basis
3. Identify what purpose Facebook serves and build around that
Does your page act as an efficient alternative to in-house customer service methods? Did the recent offer you promoted give you a viable alternative to using Groupon or similar? Does the insights gained from interaction and engagement provide your sales team with a new target market to focus on? These are the type of questions you should be considering when figuring out exactly what purpose Facebook serves for your brand.
5. Consider what would happen if you stopped using Facebook
Look at your website analytics to measure Facebook referrals in the past 12-months, apply an attribution model to determine the effect Facebook has on brand term search and direct traffic. Measure your brand sentiment online, and determine the part Facebook plays in that. In most cases, brands taking Facebook seriously will see that it impacts many facets of the branding and marketing mix.
That’s just five essential points to consider right now. In an ever-changing social media landscape, using Facebook and other social channels to promote to consumer and prospects is only going to get more expensive. Making sure every dollar spent is spent with the confidence it’s working hard is essential.
Is Facebook still worth it? It’s only worth the dollars you spend, based on the effort you spend on making sure every dollar counts.
By Sam Mackisack and Alex Wood, DT Strategy Team.
This story will not begin, as most do, with a request for your undivided attention.
It will not ask you to remain in the palm of my hand, a willingly captive audience, until a thrilling climax which leaves you in awe of my storytelling abilities, and ready to do my bidding.
The reason it won’t do any of this is because I am not the storyteller.
Storyteller implies power; the dominant force driving a narrative. Alas, I am not that dominant force. Once upon a time, I was: if you wanted to hear the end of this story, you had to listen patiently as I told it. Now you, the reader of the story, decides where the narrative goes, and how (or even if) it finishes.
Narrative is now on demand.
As Douglass Rushkoff discusses in his new book ‘Present Shock’, we have experienced narrative collapse. I haven’t read this book. Nor will I. I will instead Google the book and read only the information I find most interesting. I may buy the book, perhaps only to display it on my desk at work as a token of my cerebral nature. Mr. Rushkoff may have written this book, but I am still the storyteller.
Consider Game of Thrones. On the surface, a piece of classic storytelling. But we don’t navigate the Game of Thrones world as if it were a story we were being passively told. We are in full control of how the narrative is exposed to us.
I may watch half an episode, the highlights clip, or a whole season in one sitting. Meanwhile, with a second screen, I’m navigating my own Game of Thrones story. I’m watching the Sean Bean death reel on YouTube. I’m posting it to Facebook.. Now I’m trolling the comments section with questions about how to pronounce his name. I’m reading a chapter from the eBook. Now I’m Googling where to skip to in the episode for the ‘juicy’ bits.
Basically, I’m diverging and chattering away through the whole story… instead of sitting patiently, and quietly listening. And when the story finishes, production ceases, and George R. R. Martin puts down his pen, it’s still not over.
Because I read Game of Thrones fan fiction.
The stories that most engage us now, no longer have a beginning, a middle or an end. And if they do, these are incidental to the true emotional value we get from them.
So as a brand, you shouldn’t be telling a story. Here are five things you should be doing instead:
- Give up trying to control your audience. You are not telling the story.
- Collapse your narrative. Forget about beginning, middle and end. It begins where they choose. The middle is infinite. And the Internet has no dead ends.
- Be a world maker. A world is an environment with structure and rules, but ultimately offers the freedom to act within them. Think World of Warcraft, Facebook, Game of Thrones. You don’t own or control this world. Access is the new ownership; whoever is engaging with your world, owns it.
- Know your context. Your world is not the only one they are engaging with. They are combining yours with everything else they can consume, hence one of the most immediate forms of meme: the pop culture mash up. It might not always be with things you expect – it could be anything you share the zeitgeist with.
- Feed your fragments. Fragments are all the pieces of your world, strewn throughout the cloud. They could be products, paid advocates, users, mentions, both brand and user generated content. Any of these can act as “rabbit holes” (entries into the world), “mushrooms” (invigorating content consumed along the way) or “golden apples” (rewards for participation). Any fragment should be all three of these things. The more fragments storytellers touch, the deeper their story runs.
And if you’re an agency: don’t present to clients in story form. Let your audience control the journey – they’re used to it.
This post by DT strategists Sam Mackisack and Alex Wood first appeared on DT’s excellent blog.