WHY CREATIVES NEED TO RECLAIM ‘CREATIVE’

WHY CREATIVES NEED TO RECLAIM ‘CREATIVE’

Recently, LinkedIn revealed the top ten ‘buzz words’ it says marketers over-use on their LinkedIn profiles and CVs and it’s disturbing to see that one of these words is ‘creative’.

How can this have become a buzz word, when the vast majority of modern marketers aren’t remotely creative? The digital landscape (another couple of buzz words for you there!) has bred a legion of left-brained marketing professionals that think laterally and numerically instead of creatively. That’s not a criticism – we need these analytical types to be able to navigate the intricacies of modern digital marketing. Just think analytics; detailed segmentation; targeting; social media algorithms; complex KPIs and relating sales figures back to online campaigns and assessing paths to purchase. It’s a science. But it’s not creative!

 

True creatives love to peer in and have a top level understanding of how these factors relate to the beautiful campaign they’ve just conceptualised. But they baulk at having to get really immersed in the science behind the marketing.

That’s why when someone refers to themselves as being ‘creative’ they should think about what creative really means.

For the same reason that I wouldn’t refer to myself as analytical and scientific, people shouldn’t be casually throwing around the word creative unless they genuinely  like to ‘create’. I get tired of the word being used to define ‘a different way of thinking about things’. That has nothing to do with creating anything.

When I refer to myself as being creative it’s because I like to see a project through from conception to delivery, but more than that, it’s because I am eternally concerned with the way things are experienced from a sensory perspective, especially how things look. I get a kick out of being a part of creating something that looks amazing.

So in summary, yes, creative probably has become a buzz word. But it’s the new version of the word that’s causing the problem.

I’d love true creatives to be able to reclaim it and stop marketers using it to describe everything that they do!

Original article in The Drum here: http://www.thedrum.com/news/2017/01/30/linkedin-reveals-the-10-most-overused-marketing-buzzwords-cvs-and-profiles

 

 

THE ‘GET REAL’ GUIDE TO EXPERIENTIAL MARKETING

THE ‘GET REAL’ GUIDE TO EXPERIENTIAL MARKETING

Chrissie tells it like it is, with some vital advice for anyone considering experiential campaigns.

Every year in the UK, brands spend millions of pounds on experiential marketing. If you’re not familiar with the term and haven’t considered how it could work for your brand, it’s simply a form of promotional marketing that creates an ‘experience’ for the consumer. Hence the name! It’s favoured by brands with huge throwaway marketing budgets and a new product to launch; but it’s also popular with smaller brands and start-ups, to create a PR buzz and jump start their brand awareness.

The thing about experiential is, it’s often poorly planned. The campaigns are usually the brainchildren of misinformed office execs who have never had to implement a field-based promotional campaign; let alone tried to engage face to face with commercially disillusioned and cynical consumers.

In my early career and even prior to it, experiential work (or promo jobs, as they’re known in the business) paid for me to take holidays I wouldn’t otherwise have been able to afford; it saw me through university, bought me expensive shoes and a nice social life. But crucially it gave me an understanding of how these campaigns are delivered by staff and received by consumers.  And I’d like to share what I know, because if you’re thinking of going down the experiential route, there are many pitfalls you can avoid to ensure your spend is maximised and the campaign has the desired effect!

Let this be your guide.

 

Recognise & embrace consumer greed

Sampling activities are the easiest to carry out and the most popular with consumers, who will congregate around sample bins like flies around you know what. As cringeworthy as this is to see, it’s invaluable for your brand awareness. They’ll make sure that whatever they’re queueing for is worth it.  This means they are taking in your brand and product message.

Once they’re willingly congregating, you have created what is priceless – a buzz. You must understand that you will struggle to create that without giving something away.

The only other time I’ve seen it happen was when me and a few other members were hired to look after an Xbox 360 stand at a music festival. People could queue up to compete with each other playing games that hadn’t even been released yet. Essentially this was still a desirable giveaway, they were loaning their equipment and sought after games for free. It was an exclusive.

The lesson? Give consumers a good reason to give you their time and attention. One spritz of perfume or a leaflet is not that.

 

Work within the boundaries of average human tolerance

It seems simple to consider the people delivering your message and product to the masses, but promotional staff are rarely given enough consideration. Why should they be considered? – brands will ask. They’re just students earning well above the minimum wage to do a pretty simple task. I cannot express how wrong and short-sighted this is. Sure you might not give a rat’s ass about these people or how they feel for their own sake, but what about how it impacts on your brand?

Many years ago, I worked on a campaign for a famous brand of coffee. It was winter, we were outdoors and my team of unfortunate brand ambassadors had to wear jet pack drink dispensers full of coffee. If you’ve never had to wear a jet pack full of liquid and stand around on the same spot for hours, let me tell you it is f*cking agony. Aside from the back pain, they are huge and make you look like some kind of human/giant tortoise hybrid. An hour into the 8 hour shift and we were miserable. We weren’t allowed to put the packs down, even for short recovery periods. The staff dropped out of the campaign one after another (myself included) and the ones that remained had faces like a wet weekend. I doubt that’s what the coffee brand wanted their consumers to be faced with, but it’s what happened.

The lesson? First, use static tanks for liquid sampling and set up a stand. Jet packs are not worth the hassle. More importantly, use some common sense and consider what you’d be willing to put up with for the sake of some extra money. Few ‘promo girls’ give enough of a sh*t to put up with yours.

 

Get organised

I can’t count the times I arrived at a promotional job only to find the uniform as promised wasn’t on site, the branded stand was nowhere to be found and the store staff didn’t even know to expect me. This was less the brand’s fault and more due to the incompetence of the agency they’d hired to implement the campaign.

It has several ill effects  – firstly the brand ambassador isn’t very…. erm, branded. Secondly, they’ll feel a bit daft stood there all in black, clutching a product they’ve had to take off the shelf and randomly approaching customers who haven’t a clue what they’re doing and find the whole thing a bit odd. At all costs, promotional staff should be surrounded by and emblazoned with visual branding. It’s the most minimal requirement of any activity.

Lesson? If it’s worth doing and spending money on, it’s worth doing properly. So make sure it’s done properly.

 

Don’t overcomplicate things

A promotional campaign doesn’t exist to make demands on the consumer. However it’s hard to avoid this when it comes to data capture campaigns. By their very nature, they take some time to complete and require consumers to part with a lot of information that they might be uncomfortable or impatient with. Every single data campaign I worked on could have used a significantly shorter and more concise questionnaire that took half the amount of time to complete. Instead, participants were so impatient and huffy about how long it took, that we had no choice but to abandon the interview halfway through or cut out half of the questions and make up the answers later. It was that or no participants at all. (Of course this is far from ideal because it affects the integrity and accuracy of the data.)

If you’re thinking of conducting a data capture exercise, give the participant a little treat to lure them in and keep them sweet. Who cares if chocolate isn’t your brand? People love it. Your offer of a free double glazed window if they buy the other six, probably won’t work.

Lesson? Give an incentive. And don’t expect consumers to wait around all day answering your questionnaires. Twenty questions should be an absolute maximum if they are simple to ask and to answer. But aim for more like ten.

 

Acknowledge the difference between selling and promoting

More and more brands are setting sales targets to promotional staff placed in store. That’s fine, but there’s no guarantee your brand ambassador will be able to sell effectively. Sales, as anyone in business knows, is a real skill and setting a £600 target to someone on a fragrance demonstration is not only unrealistic, but it’s demotivating.

When planning your expectations of an activity, you must understand there’s a distinct difference between promoting a product (which is to inform customers of its existence) and selling it. Promoting involves smiling sweetly whilst emblazoned with branding and telling interested customers about the product. You don’t need me to explain why that’s not the same thing as persistently setting up and closing sales. There’s nothing wrong with expecting sales off the back of an activity, it’s just important that you communicate this to your staffing agency clearly, so they can assign their strongest salespeople to the job.

Lesson? If it’s a sales drive, be clear and be prepared to pay more for the best salespeople.

 

Black Hare provides expert experiential consultancy and strategic planning for your experiential campaigns. No matter how big or small the ripples you can afford to make are, don’t waste your budget. Get it right the first time!

WHY SO SERIOUS?

WHY SO SERIOUS?

Chrissie has a message for everyone who’s too boring on social media. Lighten up already!

There’s a common assumption that businesses can’t have a sense of humour or a wicked side. That they have to be eternally respectful, wary of every development at the school of political correctness and generally on their best behaviour.  Typically they’re worried that they have a reputation to uphold. But when did a positive reputation equate to being a boring old stuffed-shirt?

Nowhere is this lack of humour and character more apparent than when a business dabbles cautiously with social media. Social media was intended for people to connect with each other. People as individuals, are more likely to convey their quirks and personalities via Facebook and Twitter. But when businesses realised social media would be a great marketing tool, it became a channel by which we could be bombarded with the humourless, the mundane and the downright dull. I’m all for content marketing and the golden rule that if it benefits the reader, then share it. But does it have to be so bloody boring and serious?

Here’s where I prove this isn’t a cleverly disguised sales pitch. At Black Hare, we happily manage social media for clients but if you’re serious about social media and genuinely want it to be an outreach tool to your customer base (notice I didn’t call it a sales tool!); then I strongly advise against having anyone else touch it. Keep it in-house and give it to someone who understands the business properly.

Learn from the best.
Learn from the best.

When you hand it to a third party, your social media has no chance of reflecting the true spirit of your business. How can it? A third party is going to be even more risk averse than you are when it comes to your reputation. Only you know how far you’re prepared to push the boundaries, whose sensibilities you need to be careful with and how much you can truly get away with. And only you can reflect the character behind your business, because that character is yours. And only you can be responsible for it.

Charmin Tweet
There’s plenty of fun to be had with bog roll jokes!

People do business with people, especially in the B2B world. Everyone knows that – it’s the most important thing to remember when you plan your marketing and networking strategy. Even in the consumer world, people will buy into brands that give them a reason to relate on a human level. Brands that convey emotion, human strength and weakness as well as that crucial thing – humour, they do well. There’s no reason why social media shouldn’t reflect these qualities too.

This year, if your social media streams look like pages from the Times business section, why not mix things up a bit. I’m not suggesting you go all out trying to replicate the hilarity of Paddy Power or turn into the next Ricky Gervais and spend a large portion of your time antagonising religious groups. Just post like a human! Otherwise, you’re just not going to stand out. Or if you do, it will be as a boring fart with a stick up your arse.

My list of things to remember if you want to give your social media posts more character:

  • Know your audience and program your level of humour accordingly.
  • Don’t be frightened of a healthy amount of sarcasm when it’s called for. It is afterall what we, the British, are famous for.
  • Everyone laughs at toilet and sex humour. (Sorry, but they do.)
  • Reflect the quirks of your team and give people a taste of what it’s really like inside your office.
  • Be random at times. Not everything has to be industry related business news!
  • Don’t give the role of social to anyone who’s still wet behind the ears. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not the job for an intern or apprentice unless you’re happy with boring and non-spontaneous. (And checking everything they post.)
  • Play the humour game with caution on LinkedIn. People react to tomfoolery on LinkedIn like they do when someone wears a joke tie to a networking event. With disdain. Sheer disdain.
Too far?!
Too far?!

SMOOTH LINES THAT’LL MAKE YOU SNORT

SMOOTH LINES THAT’LL MAKE YOU SNORT

Black Hare Boss Lady Chrissie, has some irreverent advice for those foxed by what to say in an email subject line. Follow this at your own risk! We do not accept liability for client loss and red-faced regret.

Email is the modern business communication tool of choice, but it turns people into faceless robots. You don’t have to become one of the drones, boring everyone to death with your duller than dull email intros. Everyone knows the subject line is key, it’s like the picture on a box of chocolates; a naughty, wiggly finger, teasing you in.

I’ve spent many an hour agonising over a subject line, wondering how inappropriate I dare be, in order to get the attention of some pain in the arse who never goes through their emails properly. That said, most of the time a quick summary of the email content is sufficient. Not every subject line has to be a finely crafted work of marketing genius but sometimes it does help. It’s especially useful for PR work – a press release to a busy publication has a minuscule chance of survival in the din of the average newsdesk inbox. You could improve its chances with a subject line that can’t be ignored.

LOWER THE TONE

There are times when you have licence to be more creative and daring than others. For example, when you have a client in the adult sector, subject lines to the press are a sheer delight to write and I rarely fail to get a response to a request for coverage from even the most mainstream of titles. In fact, I look forward to the next time I can titillate a steamy-spectacled features intern on a Monday afternoon.

I bet you think this won’t really work if you’re in the industrial B2B sector. Come on people, have some imagination! (Worth a click, most definitely worth a click…)

Full Inbox Empty Life
Make someone’s day!

THE FOOL WHO CRIED ‘URGENT!’

If you can’t use filth, you could try urgency. I remember testing out some subject lines once, at a previous agency. I sent an EDM to my boss, with the line URGENT, OPEN NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! She came back from lunch and opened it in a panic, despite it being sat in the middle of a pile of ten new emails. This was of course a joke and I’m not really suggesting you do this, but it might depend on how desperate you are. You are at serious risk of never being taken seriously again. And it generally only works if you recognise the recipient as an individual. It it comes from a company, it screams spam of the worst kind. Like, past-its-sell-by-date, sweepings off the factory floor spam.

Even as an individual, you should use with caution. Only the other day, one of my suppliers was moaning that he has an infuriating client who sends every single email to him, with URGENT: at the beginning of the subject line. Not even 1 in 10 of the emails she sends are urgent. So now he makes sure he reads and actions them all last. Not quite the reaction she was hoping for! Silly mare.

CONFUSION REIGNS?

Subject lines are equally vital for email marketing campaigns. I have a pesky client who sends out his weekly newsletters with a subject line beginning: Re. (So you immediately think it’s a reply to something you’ve sent.) It gets me every time it lands in my inbox, I open it straight away thinking it’s the latest part of some recent correspondence. So it must fool other people as well! Although I have warned him that it might annoy people to the point of unsubscribing, especially if they’re not that interested in the content of the email. But possibly a risk worth taking…?

On a more serious note and as a general rule, remember the following:

  • You’re talking to a human not a machine. Show some personality.
  • Exaggerate as much as is reasonable. (Don’t tell an out and out lie, the content will just disappoint and irritate.)
  • Use urgency carefully and only when it really matters.
  • Apply innuendos where you think they’ll be appreciated, avoid them where you think you’ll cause genuine offence! Upsetting Maud in accounts ain’t gonna get your invoice paid any quicker.
  • Size matters. That’s not an innuendo! Most studies show that very short and very long email subject lines have both shown a significant spike in open rates. Give it some thought and consider each email and campaign individually.