The Splash | Issue 1: Clout | By Turtl
In this inaugural issue of The Splash, we explore mechanisms behind clout and how we can carve out the influence we need to make a meaningful impact
Carving out influence, authority, and impact in a world of competing agendas
*Mirroring at scale*
*People vs plastic pollution *
*The dark side of clout*
*Brand wars, and more...*
Welcome to The Splash
Every business is locked in a battle for clout.
As are the individuals within them. We all have goals to meet that depend on the convictions and actions of others. So how do you influence people to think and act in the way you want? And how do you build or tap into the authority you need to influence at scale?
Ultimately clout comes down to impact - the bearing you have on the thoughts and behaviors of the people you or your business comes into contact with, both directly and indirectly.
The more influence we have, the greater our ability to drive our desired outcomes, whether that's financial (like market share, budget allocation, and sponsorship fees) or social (personal recognition, social inclusion, environmental consciousness).
Clout, noun \ ˈklau̇t\
pull, influence, authority
It takes a particular degree of self-awareness to understand the real scope of our own influence and its limits are only discovered when it's put to the test. As far as sweeping statements go, it's safe to wager that most of us, consciously or not, are on the lookout for as much of it as we can get. Can this take us too far?
In this inaugural issue of The Splash, we explore mechanisms behind clout with the aim of inspiring you to think differently about how you can build your own to make a bigger impact in your business and beyond.
Editor of The Splash
Influence is an earned privilege. Like putting money in the bank, you garner the trust of the people you want to influence before you start drawing on it. Without trust, there’s no influence.
Elizabeth Kuhnke, Executive Coach
How the psychological principle of mirroring can elevate the impact of your marketing communications
We spoke to Cisco’s Marketing Director about her experience building influence
A look at the tactics and strategies through which Plastic Oceans UK are building a movement
Lessons from an entrepreneur on getting an idea off the ground
Controversy can be a catalyst for influence. Where do you draw the line in the pursuit of clout?
Tapping into the popularity and clout of a competitor can propel your own, but it's risky business
Mirroring at scale
How mirroring can level up the impact of your one-to-many communications
**By Jergan Callebaut,
Head of Psychology, DataSine**
By Jergan Callebaut, Head of Psychology, DataSine
Have you ever wondered if the image you picked for your ad, email campaign, or website will actually convert your customers? It’s a scenario that many marketers struggle with daily. We analyze the target market, we look back at what has worked well in the past, and we follow the advice spouted by any number of blogs/articles/videos /podcasts. But, when we boil it down, we rely on an awful lot of guesswork and ‘gut feeling’, rather than what we actually know will work on them.
Using psychological insights and data can be enormously helpful when it comes to understanding what your customers want to see from you. And one of the best ways to utilize content preferences is by using the psychological technique of ‘mirroring’.
What is mirroring?
The concept of mirroring has long been used as a, conscious or unconscious, way of becoming more ‘likable’ and trustworthy. Mirroring is a rapport-building technique in which a person adopts the physical and verbal behaviors of the person they are interacting with. This could mean standing in the same way as them, or repeating back a phrase they have used.
Its ability to make individuals more liked and trusted has made it an invaluable tool to many in the business world. The technique has been adopted by sales teams in particular, where establishing rapport provides a key competitive advantage.
Does it work?
You only have to quickly Google ‘mirroring experiment’ to see the results of thousands of successful tests on the theory. But to give just one example, in an experiment conducted at Duke University a number of students were asked to try a new sports drink and then answer some questions. The interviewer mirrored the posture and movements of half the participants. After the experiment was over, the half who had experienced mirroring were significantly more likely to say they would buy the drink – and to predict its market success.
Guesswork is no longer good enough to keep you competitive in an oversaturated market
Jergan Callebaut, Head of Psychology, DataSine
Mirroring and content preferences
As we’ve just established, mirroring can work to enhance people’s trust in products. So, in theory, it should be an incredibly effective tool in marketing as well as in sales. However, you probably already realize that you yourself personally practicing mirroring techniques on your audience in their hundreds, thousands, or even millions, would take you a lifetime. So how can we apply the theory in a way that’s actionable?
One of the most practical – and effective – methods of making this happen is by analyzing what type of content your customers are more likely to engage with and providing them with content similar to what they have found the most engaging in the past.
How do you know what content your audience wants?
The current prevalence of guesswork and gut feeling is good for creativity (one of most marketers’ all-time favorite words) but it relies on decision-making being logical and rational. It’s not. We make snap decisions based on emotions and our own gut feeling. In fact, psychology tells us that we have already made up our mind 10 seconds before we are aware of the choice we end up making, according to a study by the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany.
The reality is that guesswork is no longer good enough to keep you competitive in an oversaturated market. But you can rely on one thing that you’ve already got in its droves to reliably help you understand your customers’ content preferences: data.
Using your data to understand your customers' interactions
With data and insights rooted in psychology on your side, uncovering how your current or target audience have responded to digital advertising content in the past will help you to understand what they want to see from you in the future.
If you have an infinite amount of time, and a lot of psychologists in your team to analyze and label all your assets, identifying the features with the best cost-per-lead, cost-per-click or CTR, you can go about doing this now.
But you probably don’t.
Fortunately, this process is something AI can do much faster, delivering content recommendations almost instantaneously. There are already some tools out there that can streamline the process of mirroring content back to the customer. And, as more marketers wake up to the reality that they are relying on guesswork rather than working from a deep understanding of their customers, AI content recommendation platforms will swiftly grow into a booming industry as marketing becomes even more creative – just guided by powerful AI systems.
Jergan Callebaut is Head of Psychology at DataSine. DataSine is a London-based SaaS company that is using AI trained on psychological insights to help marketers create and choose the content their individual customers will find the most engaging.
*Building clout: *
Q&A with Cisco's Faith Wheller
We caught up with the Cisco Marketing Director on her experiences building influence in the tech industry as both a woman and a marketer
Faith Wheller is Segment and Partner Marketing Director EMEAR at Cisco.
Tell us about you.
How did you get to where you are today?
I did a degree in business and marketing at Brighton University. Afterwards I knew I wanted to work for a large top-20 shareholder company in Sussex, so I wrote to every single one I found in the local newspaper. I told them I’d just finished my degree and that I was very passionate about marketing. This landed me a job at Ericsson, writing content for the company newsletter, organizing events, and managing the company database. It was all very traditional marketing.
I then went on to work for a string of technology companies: Demovo, Cable & Wireless, British Telecom, EMEAR, and Tandberg, who got acquired by Cisco. I’ve worked at Cisco for nine years and have been in a variety of roles, including running the segment marketing, leading partner marketing, communications, product marketing, and campaigns.
You need to find your advocates. People buy from people, they don't buy from companies.
Faith Wheller, Marketing Director, Cisco
Cisco has been vocal about wanting to become a marketing company. How have you established the influence of the marketing department during your time there?
Marketing departments are still often seen as just being responsible for traditional marketing, like giveaways or events. What I’ve been championing at Cisco over the years is how marketing can show value, offer much more than just basic services, and be an equal partner to sales. For instance, by giving account-based insights about how to grow and penetrate and showing the value of digital marketing through demonstrating the metrics, data, and ROI behind all activity.
I strive to achieve these relationships and ensure marketing has a seat at the table with the sales team - planning and working together on a strategy, rather than marketing being an afterthought. Sales can’t do their job without marketing, and vice versa.
Things are starting to change with marketing and sales (leaning toward a low-touch or no-touch approach), but the importance of planning together and owning shared goals and objectives is critical to success. When we identify what these business priorities are, we can work out the sales strategy and marketing tactics that are required.
What challenges have you faced establishing influence as a woman in tech? What advice would you give other women?
As we know, IT and tech is very male-dominated. However, marketing tends to be more female-dominated, which is the case at Cisco. The main challenges have always been the way women are perceived in marketing, in a sales-dominated organization.
I think personal branding is very important for women in business, and in tech in general. It’s all about building relationships with others - be informative and share your opinion with confidence. It comes down to showing your credibility and authority by feeling proud of who you are.
You also need to amplify your presence - have a voice across social media and become a thought-leader in certain areas. Grow your own network via LinkedIn and by blogging, and also be able to speak eloquently in both internal and external events. Being seen as a real thought-leader in your expertise of choice is the most important thing.
Marketing is all about influencing people’s behavior - how do you shape strategies to do that?
You need to find your advocates. People buy from people, they don't buy from companies. Finding those customers or other relationships (influencers, consultants, analysts) and being able to connect with them is crucial. Creating this joint relationship that's beneficial to both parties is really important.
Cisco has an advocacy program with over 4000 advocates around the world. This program was built to connect people, allowing customers and prospects to share their stories with each other. This is really important in reaching new customers because they don’t want to listen to Cisco telling the story, they’d rather hear it from their peers.
*Stats and facts*
The business value <br>of clout
What research shows about influencer marketing and thought leadership
The value of influencer marketing
of business decision-makers start their buying process by looking for the opinions of industry experts (influencers) and peers
higher sales ROI is seen from influencer marketing content than paid media
is generated for every $1 invested in influencer marketing on average
What B2B decision-makers make of thought leadership content
Brands underestimate the impact of thought leadership on trust and reputation:
7 in 10
agree that thought leadership is one of the best ways to assess the caliber of thinking an organization has to offer
3 in 5
business decision-makers said thought leadership has directly led them to award business to an organization
2 in 3
said one of the most critical factors for their engagement with thought leadership is the relevance of the topic to their current work
Preventing plastics from reaching our oceans within a generation means convincing every corner of society to take action now. Here's how Plastic Oceans UK is making strides doing just that.
**By Natasha Rutherford,
Plastic Oceans UK**
People vs plastic pollution:
Businesses, governments, and non-profits have a major thing in common: the desire to influence people’s actions. What differs is the type and volume of people they each want to nudge. When your aim is to save the planet, or more specifically, our oceans, your audience is literally everyone. Because no matter who you are or where you call home, the health of our oceans will define your future.
Making the kind of change Plastic Oceans UK want to see in the world – at the speed the planet needs us to – calls for a multi-pronged strategy and a way of communicating that swiftly convinces and motivates people to act. Thankfully, we are far from alone in our mission and through combined efforts have seen the issue of plastics in our oceans enter and take root in the public consciousness, with legislation and businesses responding in kind.
8 million metric tons
of plastic a year ends up in the ocean, on estimate
Google trends: “Plastic ocean”. Click to expand.
The plastics movement is alive and kicking, but how did we get here?
Our approach has been to combine education and research initiatives with communications and PR campaigns that tap into both people’s rational and emotional selves.
Educating current and future decision-makers
We fund, review and promote research about the impact of plastic in our oceans, working with the Institute of Environment, Health, and Societies Department at Brunel University London to verify the scale of the problem and why we need to protect our oceans. Presenting the cold hard facts to policymakers and businesses makes it difficult for decision-makers to deny the problems and the need for change.
of marine litter is made up of plastics
Children are the future caretakers of our planet. Our detailed lesson plans have been designed to help schools teach various age groups about the importance of our oceans and the threat posed by plastic pollution. We want to challenge young people to think creatively about how we as a species can live more sustainably with plastic and help them carry that mindset into adulthood.
How would you react to being served battered plastic?
Shock and awe
More often than not, facts and stats alone are not enough to inspire change, or even to draw proper attention to an issue. People need an emotional trigger to really give pause and pay attention. We design our campaigns to do just that.
Targeting British attitudes towards plastic in the ocean probably doesn’t get more on the nose than our Future of Fish and Chips campaign. If fish don’t grow and reproduce because they are eating plastic instead of plankton, will this be the end of our beloved national dish? To get lovers of the dish thinking about the problem in this context, we teamed up with a local chippie and served battered plastic, instead of fish, to unsuspecting customers who were rightfully outraged by the meal presented to them. How’s that for food for thought?
Our World Earth Day campaign pushed the uncomfortable truth of how marine life is impacted by our single-use plastic habits. We took the increasingly familiar images of trapped, strangled, and constrained turtles, sea birds, and other ocean life and recreated them with people as the victims. The result is a bold and visually powerful campaign that shocks and compels viewers to think twice about their own plastic consumption.
Knowledge is of no value unless you put it into practice
Anton Chekhov, Author and Playwright
Taking the message to the top
Tackling a problem as monumental as plastic pollution needs more than a single organization can offer. A network of like-minded organizations and influencers has been taking shape worldwide in recent years and is the bedrock of the wider movement. This network presents partnership opportunities that bring influential voices together to deliver a clear and pertinent message to the most powerful of decision-makers.
This spring we were proud to co-host an event at the houses of parliament with the Coalition for Global Prosperity and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Prevention of Plastic Waste. The occasion saw our CEO Jo Ruxton speak out on the issue to 150 MPs and business leaders alongside the deeply respected Sir David Attenborough, who highlighted the UK’s global responsibility to tackle the problem of plastic waste given the amount of it we produce and outsource to other nations.
Momentum is growing around the cause. The UK government has announced that it will double its aid support for pilot schemes to improve plastic recycling in some of the world’s poorest countries, from £3 million to £6 million. The EU recently voted to impose a sweeping ban on single-use plastics, with similar bans in discussion in the Americas. While this is hugely encouraging, there’s quite a way to go until we’ve cracked the problem of keeping plastic out of our oceans.
Onwards and upwards!
Have you reduced the amount of single-use plastic you consume in the last 2 years?
- Yes, I avoid it like the plague that it is
- Yes, though I could do more to cut down
- No, it's not a priority for me
- What's wrong with single-use plastic?
From concept to company
Launching any new initiative calls for building credibility in your ideas and in your ability to execute them. Here's what that looked like for SaaS company, Turtl.
**By Nick Mason,
CEO and Founder, Turtl**
Starting a business is like falling down the stairs and trying to land on your feet
CEO and Founder, Turtl
Lots of people want to start a business nowadays but, while it might sound crazy, with Turtl, that wasn’t really my intention at the outset. My initial drive was purely one of curiosity and interest when I started learning about the psychology behind how we read while working as a software and product consultant at the University of Oxford. Some of my friends worked in digital marketing, so I knew a bit about that already, and I thought it would be fascinating to see what happens when you combine the two disciplines.
There will always be people who will try to put you down and who won’t see things from your perspective
Nick Mason, CEO and Founder, Turtl
So, I started tinkering with concepts in my bedroom (literally) in my spare time - and I basically haven’t stopped tinkering since! Five years on, Turtl is now a thriving business with clients including Nestlé, The Economist, and Cisco and a team of 45 behind us. Not a bad result when you consider our humble beginnings. So, you might be wondering how we managed to get where we are?
Learning to love rejection
It certainly hasn’t been plain sailing. As someone with no experience of starting a business, I began by trying to book meetings with anybody I could in the marketing industry to show them a very early Turtl prototype and see the reaction. I’m not ashamed to say that in those early meetings there was some pretty direct criticism – people saying it was no good, a bad fit for their business, or would never work. Yet despite the rejections, I felt compelled to keep plugging away. Everything else seemed boring in comparison and I couldn’t shake the conviction that there was something special in what I was working on.
That has been one of the big lessons for me; that there will always be people who will try to put you down and who won’t see things from your perspective (believe me, it still happens today). But, even though it’s difficult at the time, those rejections are all part of the process, because putting your idea out there is the only way to get the feedback you need to improve and refine it. I didn’t realize at the time, but all that rejection was vital to developing a product that people actually wanted - or to use the startup terminology, finding our ‘product-market fit’.
Finding your fit
Needless to say, after numerous meetings and intros, we made our first sale and took a crucial step towards the validation we were looking for. Although, when I think back to that early version, it still surprises me a bit that they went for it! But they obviously saw the value in what we were building and I’m happy to say they’re still a client today.
You will hear ‘no’ a million times, but when you’re convinced by what you’re doing, all that rejection doesn’t dent your resolve
Nick Mason, CEO and Founder, Turtl
It was a similar story when we met our now COO Mark and Sales Director Ben, who were working at PayPoint. We originally went to try to sell them Turtl, but they liked the idea so much that they decided to invest, leaving their jobs to come to work for us. They’ve both now been with us for four years, and their skills were just what we needed, bringing the commercial and operational expertise that I lack and which the business needs to grow.
Mark and Ben are also perfect examples of why it’s important to surround yourself with people who are 100% bought into what you do – and every hire we’ve made since has been the same. I believe that if you start employing people who just want a job, then you’re in dangerous territory - in a young business, your team has to be united behind a shared belief that they’re doing the right thing. And, as an entrepreneur, that means you have to maintain that clarity of vision and direction at all times as otherwise it’s hard for people to really buy in fully.
Because despite the long and challenging road towards product and business validation, I always believed deep down that we were onto something and simply didn’t believe anyone who told me otherwise. As an entrepreneur, you will hear ‘no’ a million times, but when you’re convinced by what you’re doing, all that rejection doesn’t dent your resolve. And if you stick with it, that clarity of vision is infectious and other people pick up on it too… and then there’s no stopping you!
Nick Mason is the founder and CEO of Turtl, a SaaS company that empowers teams to create interactive content without the need for graphic design or coding skills.
The dark side of chasing clout
When influence is rewarded with financial benefits, what would we do to get our hands on more?
**By Kit McKay**
Clout at what cost?
Controversy can be a powerful weapon in the pursuit of influence. Learn how to wield it without injuring yourself.
By Kit McKay
In Netflix’s Black Mirror, a science fiction anthology series examining the effects of new technology on modern society, we see a world completely driven by clout. In the episode Nosedive, every person has a rating from one to five stars for every interaction they have. The higher their accumulative rating, the better socioeconomic benefits they have access to.
Lacie, a woman obsessed with increasing her rating so she can live in a nicer apartment, suffers a series of unfortunate events that cause her to have a rapid reduction in her rating. Her low rating prevents her from common services like buying airplane tickets or renting cars. It eventually becomes so low that she’s imprisoned, where they remove the digital system from her eyes. It’s only then that she realizes the freedom of not having to worry about her influence anymore.
Sounds crazy? Not really. This system already exists within the popular lift-sharing app Uber, where drivers and passengers rate each other on a scale from 0 to 5.
And the Zhima credit system in China is about as close as it gets: a private credit system based on how “trustworthy” you are, with everything from online behavior to the quality of your friends affecting your rating.
It might not be as overt as the system in Nosedive, but we do live in a world driven by clout. When greater influence is rewarded with real financial benefits, what would we do to get our hands on more?
Using controversy to grow clout
Absolute power corrupts absolutely
When Lord Acton, the 19th-century British politician, coined this phrase to convey the idea that increased influence leads to diminished morality, he probably wasn’t referring to social media stars, but what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him.
In Nosedive, negative behavior is punished with a reduction in your rating, making you less influential. But, in reality, we know it’s not that simple. Some of the most influential people in the world have benefited from controversy: Donald Trump, Piers Morgan, Chris Brown, Megyn Kelly.
When YouTuber and social media influencer, Logan Paul, hit worldwide news in early 2018 for uploading a video of a man who had killed himself in Japan’s “Suicide Forest”, his name was suddenly everywhere. Was it negative press? Of course. But it ultimately contributed to his career and influence in the social media industry.
I bank on the naivety of old people and millennials to perpetuate my brand, make me go viral, and keep me relevant
Logan Paul, Social Media Influencer
► The outrage against Logan Paul's video covered in the news
That same year, he made $14.5m and has since continued to make controversial videos that grow his clout. Speaking on his podcast, ImPaulsive, about one of his recent videos, he said:
“I bank on the naivety of old people and millennials to perpetuate my brand, make me go viral, and keep me relevant. The amount of earned media I got because of this clip – hundreds of thousands of dollars, for free, because of the haters.”
Influencers can financially benefit from controversy brought about by negative anti-social behavior. But what does that mean for the brands who associate or partner with them?
Brands and influencers: a risky relationship?
While controversy can be used by celebrities and influencers in exchange for clout, it’s potentially catastrophic for businesses. So when one half of this relationship opts for controversy, how should the brand react?
According to Sanjay Sarma, founder of branding and design consultancy Design Worldwide:
“While positive conduct leads to exponential gains, negative associations can erode market value in no time. So it’s a tricky path. But when endorsers set a wrong example, brands need to take a hard unemotional business decision. If the endorser does not represent the brand values anymore, he/she deserves to go.”
Nike is a brand that has had to deal with these decisions more than most. Following controversies, it has broken brand deals with the likes of Maria Sharapova, Lance Armstrong, and S. Sreesanth.
But Nike is loyal to its influencers when their brand values are in line with the controversial action. Colin Kaepernick, an American football quarterback, became one of the most controversial figures in the US when he protested police brutality and racial injustice by kneeling during the national anthem. He was also made the face of Nike’s new brand campaign.
quarterback, became one of the most controversial figures in the US when he protested police brutality and racial injustice by kneeling during the national anthem. He was also made the face of Nike’s new brand campaign.
This decision was met with a lot of criticism. #BoycottNike and #JustBurnIt trended on Twitter, with people threatening to throw out or burn all their Nike products in retaliation.
Although the brand's popularity had taken a hit with some groups, the risk ultimately paid off. The campaign attracted record social media likes, more than $160 million in tv, radio, and digital media exposure, and a huge surge in Nike's online sales. Nike's stocks soared in response, adding $6 billion to their business.
One of their commercials featuring Kaepernick has recently been nominated for an Emmy [featured].
▶︎ Watch Dream Crazy – Nike's Emmy nominated ad featuring Kaepernick
Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.
Colin Kaepernick, Football Quarterback and Nike Brand Ambassador
Leveraging controversy the right way
Brands are understandably quick to drop relationships with influential people who cross the moral code or values of the business.
But that doesn’t mean brands should shy away from controversy completely. Nike aligned with the principles of Kaepernick’s actions and was happy to stand alongside him. This proved to be the right business decision as they knew that the majority of their target audience shared the same views.
For a brand to be influential, it needs to be willing to leverage controversy. If you want to be high up in the status quo, you need some way of propelling yourself to the top levels of influence.
Turtl’s CEO and founder, Nick Mason, understands this better than most:
“The worst marketing, especially for a small company or challenger brand, is the kind that makes people go “meh”. It’s better to piss off 80% of people if you can get a loyal 20% behind your cause. Once you’ve grown to a place where you are the status quo, you can soften your messaging as you don’t need to polarize as much in order to grow influence.”
if you can get a loyal 20% behind your cause. Once you’ve grown to a place where you are the status quo, you can soften your messaging as you don’t need to polarize as much in order to grow influence.”
For large companies, aligning with controversial influencers can be an effective way to really cement their brand values and grow clout among their target audience. For small companies, controversy can be a tool to cut through the noise, shake up the status quo, and establish more influence than they would be able to otherwise.
When chasing clout, whether you’re a business or an individual, you have to allow your own moral or brand values to drive every decision you make. If your beliefs are aligned with your actions, then any controversy that arises won’t negatively impact the people you’re targetting, and you won’t be supporting a person or cause you don’t agree with. In this way, you grow your influence without turning to the dark side.
How do you feel about brands
taking a socio-political stance?
- It's important to me. I don't want to support a brand that doesn't share my values.
- I'm cynical about any brand that does this. They're just tapping into important issues to earn more money.
- I think it's a wasted opportunity if brands shy away from aligning themselves with causes their customers and employees care about.
- It's super risky. They'll always be alienating someone and likely lose business as a result.
- I don't care either way.
5 rules for making it as a thought leader
Building clout is not for everyone
Explore how to tap into the clout of a competitor without embarrassing yourself
**By Anna King**
Making fun of your competitors can be a risky marketing strategy, but for those who get it right, the rewards can be significant. Here we look at what it takes to make comparative and parody advertising work, and how to avoid the common pitfalls.
Coca-cola and Pepsi. McDonald's and Burger King. BMW and Mercedes. We can all name the iconic brand rivalries.
The Cola Wars kept many of us entertained throughout our teenage years, and who hasn’t chuckled at Burger King’s shameless ribbing of McDonald's. It’s a tactic that never gets old, as shown by BMW’s clever, and hugely successful, tribute to Mercedes’ outgoing CEO just this year.
When handled well, competitor parody can make for some of the most creative, memorable, and eye-catching campaigns. But on the flip side, it can also be fraught with risk.
BMW says farewell to a long-respected rival
Burger King uses release of horror film IT to poke fun at McDonald's
Take the new FinTech, Viola Black, which recently took a pop at more established rival Monzo. Far from enhancing its reputation, its “Move over, Monzo” campaign drew attention to the brand’s flaws, rather than its strengths – alienating both peers and potential customers in the process.
So, while the rewards for starting a brand war can be significant, for many marketers, the thought of doing so can understandably bring them out in a cold sweat. Are there any secrets to making it work?
Viola Black's campaign in London was not received well by Monzo's loyal (and vocal) community
Viola Black took a blunt stab at neo-bank leader Monzo. It wasn’t funny, and it wasn’t based on facts.
Jasper Martens, CMO, PensionBee
Treading a fine line
Jasper Martens, CMO at PensionBee, says he has three rules when using competitors in brand communication: get your facts straight, keep it above the belt and use humor whenever possible. Advice that Viola Black didn’t heed, to its detriment.
“Viola Black took a blunt stab at neo-bank leader Monzo. It wasn’t funny, and it wasn’t based on facts. The lack of respect for Monzo was apparent and the actual execution was lacking any profound cut-through,” he explains.
Companies need to be prepared for a long war, rather than a short battle
Giulia Iannuci, Know Thy Brand
Failure to fact-check immediately puts you on the backfoot and dents your reputation - the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve, says Martens. Furthermore, you’re opening yourself up to legal action if you breach advertising laws, not to mention a social media backlash on top. Doing your due diligence is therefore critical.
Tone is another key element to get right, so that the results come across as good fun, rather than bad-natured or unprofessional. Brand expert, Giulia Iannucci, from Know Thy Brand, advises to: “…come across as fun and light, as opposed to un-gentlemanly and rude,” while ensuring that you don’t enter into a brand war lightly.
“Companies need to be prepared for a long war, rather than a short battle,” she says. “You need to have the resources in place, both in terms of budget and especially creativity, because otherwise, you risk that your competitors' comeback will be more effective than your own first attack.”
One way to check how your ad is likely to land is by testing it with your audience first, something Hannah Robinson, Marketing Manager at Larsen Howie, recommends.
“Don’t go for it until you’ve tested the idea with a few different age groups and demographics - the millennial market in particular really cares about brand ethics and culture. A soft launch on social is also a good idea to get a grasp of the kind of reaction you’ll get.”
It’s all very well for Burger King or BMW, but can any type of brand try this kind of advertising? How about smaller brands, B2B firms, or third sector organizations – could this approach work for them?
Viola Black notwithstanding, Martens says that comparative ads can be particularly effective for challenger brands, who can afford to take risks earlier in their brand cycle.
“It’s worth considering if your new product or service is disrupting or challenging the status quo, and particularly if you operate in a market with one, or just a few, big incumbents that everybody knows,” he says.
B2B can be trickier, with its traditionally more serious tone and risk-averse audience. As a result, Leor Franks, Chief Marketing Officer at Augusta Ventures, says most B2B services brands would likely steer clear, to avoid risking brand credibility.
Comparative Google ads are common in B2B
“In B2B services industries, where individual relationships are often the basis of sales, it is usually frowned upon to be overly negative or criticize a competitor. Some would say that such negative tactics cheapen both the brand being criticized and that of the individual offering the criticism.”
However, that’s not to say it’s a total no-go area for B2B brands, and Iannucci believes there could be space for more cheekiness in some B2B sectors, giving them the chance to embrace their fun side and “stand out from the crowd”.
Karla Rivershaw, Head of Marketing at Turtl, who recently launched a campaign urging marketers to 'kill the PDF' agrees:
“As a challenger brand with a product that upsets the status quo, we can't afford a middle-of-the-road approach."
Turtl have neatly side-stepped direct brand rivalry by calling out the competing format, rather than the brand responsible for it.
"The campaign has definitely evoked quite strong emotional reactions from our audience (positive and negative), but it makes us memorable and gets people talking which ultimately is what we’re going for. It also helps us identify the people with the mindset our product caters to.”
Know your audience
Whatever your brand, you must always think about the audience and the sector that you’re operating in, as Iannucci explains.
“Companies need to make sure that their audience is open to it. Again, in the case of Viola Black, they decided to take on a business with millions of loyal clients, forgetting that, when it comes to choosing a new player in the financial sector, trust is a critical factor and that people tend to think twice before leaving the well-known supplier for the new entry.”
Successful marketing is about pushing the boundaries and, with new and exciting brands popping up all the time, starting a brand war can help to build awareness, generate conversions, boost loyalty and reputation. But, as with all of the most creative tactics, steering clear of the banana skins is essential. Cheekiness is a winner, whereas arrogance never goes down well. And whatever you do - check your facts.
What's your favorite brand rivalry?
- Coca Cola vs Pepsi
- Apple vs Microsoft (mac vs pc)
- Burger King vs Mcdonald's
- BMW vs Mercedes
- Ford vs GM
- Marvel vs DC
Untruths about influencer marketing
There are plenty of assumptions out there about the relevance and value of influencer marketing. <br>Don't get stuck on the wrong side of the fence.
**By Pierre-Loïc Assayag, CEO at Traackr
via The Marketing Society**
By Pierre-Loïc Assayag, CEO, Traackr
Influencer marketing has been a secret weapon for large consumer brands to tap into focused targeted audiences. Think of how Yelp secures new markets with localized high profile foodies, how Barclays Premier League utilized Vine to win 474,000,000 loops, or how Swiss luxury retailer de GRISOGONO generated 19,000,000 impressions from just 14 relevant influencers.
Influencer marketing is a readily available growth channel for startup and enterprise marketers alike. With fears that generous marketing budgets are a thing of the past, smart marketing organizations are searching for acquisitions channels that can prove cost-effective and drive faster conversions. This is exactly where Influencer marketing, one of the least understood marketing technology vehicles, comes into play. Here are five influencer marketing misconceptions holding back marketers from potential explosive growth:
Influencer Marketing Myth #1
Forget about relevance,
it’s all about reach.
You were just scobalized… great work! Engaging influencers that have a massive community of followers is great for getting smiles from management and investors. How many of those community members were truly relevant to you?
Many influencers with a fraction of the following maintain active community members that are highly focused in the specific set of interests. Think of a new B2B SaaS solution benefiting from buzz from Robert Scoble’s 487K Twitter following vs. @jasonfalls’s 90,000 Twitter following. The latter, although slimmer in reach, has a dramatically more relevant user base.
Go beyond the follower count and build a comprehensive pipeline of niche influencers that offer small but powerful armies of relevant and interested members.
Align your content strategy alongside the topics that interest your relevant influencer base
Pierre-Loïc Assayag, CEO, Traackr
Influencer Marketing Myth #2
It’s only for branding.
Several relevant influencers just re-tweeted best practice tweets from your company Twitter account. Your brand is finally getting the impression numbers that it deserves, right? Isn’t there more behind Twitter impressions and Vine loops?
The reality is that Influencer marketing is an effective and measurable channel for traffic and conversions. Align your content strategy, customer case studies, blog posts, and white papers alongside the topics that interest your relevant influencer base. Work with them to understand what precise topics they want to explore and build your content plan with their feedback. Reach out to them with scheduled blog posts on a consistent basis and watch your traffic grow.
Influencer Marketing Myth #3
It’s all pay for play.
Paying for a celebrity endorsement can yield a spike in traffic from early adopters at an appropriately spiked price. Awesome traffic, but what happens 30, 60, or 90 days later? Will your budget withstand the test of time? Will the celebrity still be into your brand or paying attention to next big thing, or even your competition? Will their community follow suit?
Successful influencer marketing means that you've built an army of influential advocates
Pierre-Loïc Assayag, CEO, Traackr
The output of celebrity endorsements can be very misleading, specifically for consumer brands; according to a recent study, 72% of luxury brands found that homegrown influencer engagement was effective. Invest your time into finding influencers that are organically and naturally gravitated to the topics your brand covers or are themselves activists in solving the same challenges you’re addressing. Position yourself as a credible source of data with use cases, best practices, and even customer stories to build opportunities that help expand your influencer’s topic expertise.
Influencer Marketing Myth #4
It’s not scalable.
So you succeeded engaging 20 out of the 300 major influencers in the category relevant for your business. Do you really need to capture interest from all 300, or even just 200? Is the time, resource allocation, and effort really worth it?
The fundamental rules of marketing focus on finding the lowest input to yield the highest output. It’s 100% true that you can't touch and engage every single soul influencing your business or category… So what?!
Getting to scale is about scaling the impact, not the reach. Successful influencer marketing means that you've built an army of influential advocates who will carry your message further and higher than you ever could to the exact audience you want. Focus your resources on engaging and earning trust with your core A-list first.
Influencer marketing isn’t about one-night stands
Pierre-Loïc Assayag, CEO, Traackr
Influencer Marketing Myth #5
It only adds value to existing campaigns.
You succeeded in getting some influencers to retweet a white paper. Nice incremental win on top of the paid media investments you’ve already made for the campaign. Rinse and repeat, right?
What would have been the impact on lead generation, social discussions, and Twitter impressions if you had consulted with and wove the influencer's feedback in a campaign focused specifically toward their followers? Influencer marketing isn’t about one-night stands - it’s really about creating partnerships that value the opinions and interests of your valued influencer conciliary.
Reach out to your A-list and better understand what really interests them. Use this insight to setup your campaign from the beginning and watch as both their interest in you and the impact that you make with their followers grow time and time again.
Influencers are a tremendous resource for establishing consistent credibility, authenticity, and traffic that can drive lead conversions and sales opportunities further up the pipe. In order to capture the traffic and engagement potential that Influencer marketing offers, you’ll need to map out a healthy pipeline of influencers with precisely relevant communities, carefully time your nudge with influencers, and build a content pipeline that will offer value to communities on a consistent basis.
To put it more simply, the secret to executing a killer Influencer marketing strategy lies in building authentic relationships with relevant influencers. Don’t let the celebrity endorsement confuse you; actively reach out to new influencers and help them to provide an ongoing authentic experience to their user base.