Article | March 8, 2021
In advance of the already highly controversial interview between Oprah Winfrey, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex surprised us all with an interview on The Late Late Show with James Corden just over a week ago now.
In his first interview since stepping back from his duties within the Royal Family, the Prince took part in a seemingly relaxed, natural, and spontaneous interview with TV host and friend, James Corden.
And whilst it appeared to be off-the-cuff and completely un-staged, it would have in fact, been quite the opposite.
This interview highlighted the true power of sensationalism within communications, provoking public interest, telling Harry’s side of the story, and defining his position as a brand.
Matthew Hayes, Managing Director of Midlands-based brand agency Champions (UK) plc, explains why he thinks the interview proves that Harry, the Duke of Sussex understands his brand power, allowing him to reposition himself within the industry.
“The interview was completely unexpected and caught everybody off guard. We were all so eagerly anticipating his and Meghan’s upcoming interview with Oprah that we hadn’t even considered he would perhaps look at other options,” he said.
The Late Late Show almost goes against his previous branding as a member of the Royal Family.
Matthew said, “It was great to see Harry doing Harry.
“Throughout the entire interview, Harry displayed his true personality and owned it. And in terms of branding and positioning, he knocked it out of the park.
“I believe that Harry achieved what he had set out to do, which was to change the narrative by telling his side of the story and ultimately change the public’s opinion of him.”
And in doing so, the interview amassed more than 15 million views on YouTube in under a week, proving that anticipation doesn’t always equate to more impact.
More than just a Prince
Providing a glimpse into family Zoom calls with his grandparents, Harry used this interview as a way to demonstrate he is more than just a Prince, but a father, husband, son, and grandson, too.
"Harry managed to find his own brand identity whilst remaining all of those things, as well as continuing to work in public service. He owned and delivered it in a way that I can only describe as genius.”
By changing the narrative and telling his story, Harry proved that he is much more than everybody has perceived him as.
The Duke of Sussex isn’t the only person within this industry to change and reposition his brand.
Snoop Dogg is renowned for having more than one persona and this has become a part of his brand identity. From gangster to rapper, actor and more recently, the star of Just Eat’s latest marketing campaign, Snoop is recognised for exactly that – proving the power of branding.
Clever and controversial marketing
After watching the Prince’s interview with James Corden ahead of his sit-down chat with Oprah Winfrey, many of us have been left wondering which really came first – or was this a part of the plan all along?
Matthew explains why he thinks it was a clever marketing ploy:
“I believe that this interview came first as a deliberate way for Harry to define his brand and lay down the law prior to appearing on Oprah.
“Many of us, myself included, assumed that Oprah would be his first (and possibly last) exclusive interview, but what this has done is create a buzz and even more anticipation ahead of its airing.
“Before watching Harry with James, I may not have even considered sitting down to watch his appearance on Oprah, and I expect this to be the case for many others, too.”
It was recently announced that ITV have bought the rights to Harry and Meghan’s interview with Oprah for £1M, with it set to air at 9pm on March 8.
While some may call this controversial, and it may be, Matthew believes it to be clever and tactful marketing.
He said, “Harry’s appearance on The Late Late Show will no doubt boost viewing figures for his interview with Oprah, making it somewhat of a teaser.
“Mystery and anticipation are remarkable ways to tell a story, which is exactly what both Harry and Meghan have done here.”
Digital storytelling expert and founder of Play Human, Matthew Scott also explains the benefits of controversial marketing and why it is so impactful.
He explains, “Simply, controversy appeals to consumers and it grabs their attention. But more importantly, it raises a point and sparks debate, which is key when it comes to storytelling, particularly within branding.
“Telling a story with an edge of controversy or challenge is a good thing and is what leads to change.”
The future of sensationalism
Matthew Hayes predicts that following this seemingly controversial yet clever act of sensationalism and storytelling, many brands will begin to follow suit.
“Already, Prince Harry has gained such tremendous traction from one short interview, so just imagine the publicity after Monday evenings show.
“Brands will see the benefits of working in this manner, albeit slightly controversially, but that it really does work and will garner seriously impressive results.
“I am one of those people who perhaps frowned upon Harry’s decision to officially leave the Royal Family.
However, after watching his interview with James Corden, my perception of the whole matter has completely changed, which I guess was the aim of the game, right? Well, it worked – for me, anyway.”
Article | November 27, 2020
Every business has a story that goes beyond products and services. No matter how great your products are, what really creates loyal, repeat customers is your ability to engage with them, relate to them, and be authentic with them.
By sharing your story as part of your marketing strategy and connecting with clients as real people, you are effectively showing them that you are interested in more than just completing the next sale. A little bit of openness goes a long way in busting open doors to future business.
Here are five tips for strong storytelling while marketing your business:
1. Share your truth. Be honest about your story when you tell it and you will create a bond with clients. Don’t overexaggerate or embellish your background and instead think about the most compelling parts of your journey and accentuate them. The key is for people to see you as not just a business owner or vendor but as someone they can relate to.
For example, if you served in the military, you can share a little bit about your background and explain why it was important for you to serve your country as well as how you transitioned into your current career.
2. Show your personality. According to Fast Company, 92% of consumers want businesses to tell stories in their ads. The more you show off your personality and the person behind the brand, the more emotionally connected your clients will feel towards your business. When a human bond like this is formed, it creates brand loyalty because of the sentimental value that is now attached.
3. Build relationships and you will build sales. Be inviting in your marketing campaigns and leave the door open for further communication and engagement. For example, send a personalized postcard via direct mail and include a QR Code for more information that drives traffic to your website. Then, make sure your website matches the intent and sentiment of your postcard so that it creates a uniform, consistent feel that strengthens your relationship with customers.
4. Be active on social media. The best thing you can do to further your story is to be active on social media every day. Pick the two or three social media channels that you feel work best for your business and stick with them. The last thing you want to do is have a social media page that hasn’t been updated in months because then the potential clients who visit those pages will question whether or not you are still in business. Also, act like yourself, don’t overpromote, and continue to reveal parts of your personality in a meaningful manner.
5. Be involved in your community and give back. Last but certainly not least, it is vital to get involved in your community and give back. People are more likely to do business with you when you share common interests, and everyone wants to see community members lift each other up. If you are passionate about certain causes, you can remain authentic and also show you are empathetic to others. Empathy is a strong, effective tool in telling your overall story because when you care about others, people will care about you. When they care about you, they are more inclined to do business with you.
Ultimately, we all have a story to share of how we got to this point in our careers. For business owners, it is crucial to add authentic storytelling elements to your marketing efforts so that you are seen as a genuine person who cares more about people than sales.
And, in doing so, the sales will follow suit.
Article | December 11, 2020
The Coronavirus pandemic brought an old realization back to businesses – The devil is in the detail. As stores shut and opened tentatively, Amazon’s delivery cycles stretched and returned, and brands reconfigured production-supply chain combinations several times in a span of months, one thing was clear – staying strong and emerging through the current chaos would require close attention to details on a real-time basis:
Where is the demand moving?
What’s my inventory?
What are my operating costs and profit margins on one channel vs. another?
What are my buyers’ other options right now?
How do I optimize digital assortments?
What are the new and emerging customer needs?
And amid the chaos, another thing became apparent to brands – they needed a robust digital strategy to not just drive through this crisis but to thrive in the emerging world. Driven by lockdown restrictions and the desire for safety, more consumers have moved online.
According to research by Adobe Analytics, the total U.S. online sales reached $73.2 billion in June 2020, year over year up 76.2% (from $41.5 billion the previous year).
Consumer research by various teams at Course5 Intelligence has shown that the pandemic has created a large population of first-timers on eCommerce, with a massive increase in online spending by those who were already shopping online earlier. Most research respondents said that their shopping would continue to be omnichannel in the future, with an increased share of online.
And yet that’s only part of the reason why brands need an effective digital strategy. Even before consumers buy their products, they are looking online for information on what they want, availability, meeting the safety standards, and aligning with their preferences and needs. Google and Amazon have become the first point of research when users when to buy something, so digital lies at the very start of their purchase journey. And this is also where digital has distinctive strength over offline channels – the space and scope for a brand to define their brand, highlight distinguishing characteristics from competitor products, share user reviews to gain credibility, and deliver highly customized price-product offers, optimizing gain for buyers and the business.
However, many CPG companies do not have their direct-to-consumer platforms; many are still focused on partnering with a variety of e-marketplaces that exist globally or regionally.
How do you optimize your brand parameters for eCommerce platforms?
Even though many brands have set up their own D2C sites (for instance, PepsiCo’s snacks.com and pantryshop.com), there is no comparison in reach with major eCommerce platforms such as Amazon, Walmart, Flipkart, Shopify, Tesco, Target, Alibaba, Costco among others; your brand needs to be here. Each of these platforms has different engagement parameters for brands. While Amazon has 1P (1st party – Amazon is the wholesale buyer and markets and sells to consumers) and 3P (3rd party – Brand sells direct to consumer via Amazon) options, with Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) and FBM (Fulfilment by Merchant) options within 3P, others have a variety of other arrangements brands must choose. Making more significant decisions such as choosing the platform/s you want your brand on, the right selling/fulfillment strategy and base pricing to fine-tuning the advertising, product messaging, price, optimizing the supply value chain and product assortment on a day-to-day or week-to-week basis requires a combination of real-time contextual insight and the digital capabilities to be responsive.
Course5 Intelligence has been helping CPG, Retail, and Technology brands use AI-driven insight mechanisms and digital capabilities to define their eCommerce strategy and improve revenues in three broad ways —
WIN THE DIGITAL SHELF BATTLE
Price — How do I optimize my pricing strategy based on various trends?
Product portfolio — How do I optimize my product portfolio and packaging initiatives?
Catalog — Which categories do I overplay?
Market Share — How do I drive sales and gain market share faster than my competitors?
Brand Hygiene — How do I optimize search, product discovery, and reach for all my SKUs?
OPTIMIZE MARKETING SPEND
Ad-spend Attribution — What marketplaces are delivering the maximum ‘clicks to revenue’?
Purchase Signals — Are my ads targeted on purchase signals or on guesstimates?
DEMYSTIFY DATA COMPLEXITIES
Enable Quick Decisions — Do I have visibility on all dimensions and objectives?
Expedite Data Semantics — How quickly can I glean insights from new data sources?
Solve the ‘Alt-Tab’ Environment — Does my analysis exist in an ‘alt-tab’ environment? Or within a single product?
These are just a few data points that drive action within an effective and profitable eCommerce strategy. CPG brands that would like to make lasting inroads to consumers’ online shopping habits will need to deliver compelling value to buyers continuously. To do this, they will need to expertly navigate a complex and dynamic set of parameters to shine through at every level of the buyer’s journey – from the first appearance on the buyer’s horizon to becoming their first and last choice, always ensuring that the numbers match across buying price to experienced value.
Optimizing your digital marketplace strategy for the end-to-end buyer journey in an amorphous market landscape is the only way to stay ahead of the competition, establish category leadership, and increase revenue on a sustained basis.
Article | April 15, 2021
Search engine optimisation (SEO) has come a long way, with continued developments, advancements and algorithm tweaks giving business owners, brand agencies and marketing gurus more than just a digital headache.
But traditionally, SEO has been a numbers game, with ranking positions the all-important deciding factor. However, with the purpose of the activity to reflect and cater to user behaviours, can SEO really be simplified to numerical values?
In this piece, Nate Burke, CEO of Diginius, a proprietary software solutions provider for digital marketing and ecommerce, takes a look at how far SEO has come and how more recent advancements in intelligence are helping it towards its ultimate goal.
For any business operating online, SEO is an essential element of the digital marketing mix. Forming the foundation of website designs and content output, SEO helps businesses build an online presence by increasing the chances of web pages and products appearing in visible positions on search engine results pages.
Over the years, the activity has advanced significantly. Of course, it has come a long way since the early days of cramming as many keywords as possible into text, or using spam websites to backlink to yours in an attempt to gain authority.
And while many of these activities are now frowned upon, and can in fact, negatively impact SEO rather than help it, the motivations are the same. For instance, using keywords in website copy or product descriptions is still key in ensuring they rank for the right search terms. Similarly, backlinks remain the golden ticket for website authority, albeit from genuine and trustworthy sources.
The difference is that today, SEO is much more intuitive. Best practice is all about optimising content for logical human behaviour and user experience. For example, keywords that are integrated into copy in a much more natural way are likely to gain more SEO points than a page which uses the old cramming approach.
The reason for this shift is all down to advancements in intelligence, which are enabling search engines to assess and score content in more sophisticated ways than previously possible. Ultimately, today’s ranking assessments understand pages and content in ways that are similar to human usage and interactions.
For example, Google’s roll out of featured snippets has shown significant insight into how the search engine is being used, and in turn, how businesses must adapt their content in order to reach the top-ranking positions.
Emphasis on Q&A style results in position zero of results pages is clear evidence for users turning to the platform for question queries, for which they want quick and straightforward answers. And with these featured snippet boxes taking up significant space on the top of the results page, pushing other organic results further down, it is essential for businesses to include such content into their optimisation strategies.
Additionally, there is a strong case for the use of PPC ads in order to ensure higher visibility on pages that are becoming much harder to rank on organically. This is also true for product searches, as the search engine prioritises shopping results when a user’s query is interpreted as an intent to purchase. Therefore, shopping ads are a great way to ensure your products are visible among competitors in the most prominent position on the page.
Evidently, intelligence in SEO is enabling it to reflect user behaviours and intentions more accurately. And while this is a positive change from a consumer perspective, as results are only becoming more relevant, convenient and useful, for businesses, the playing field is more complex than ever.
So, with ranking criteria constantly being adapted and advanced by search engines, there are ways for businesses to leverage their own intelligence in order to improve SEO activity.
For instance, the backbone of any effective SEO strategy is data and insight. For many, collecting this information requires a trial and error approach, whereby businesses implement tactics and learn from what is and isn’t working.
But as search engines become more complex and intelligent, it can be difficult to get things right, or to really be able to assess activity without waiting months in some cases. Therefore, businesses should use their own data and insights to inform any decisions or activity. This can be a key way to ensure you focus on the right channels, customers and keywords.
For instance, using lead intelligence gathered and analysed by a sophisticated management system that takes into consideration all sales channels, including owned and third-party marketplaces, can provide valuable information on which channels your customers are using most frequently and what products or services are most popular.
This information can then go on to inform the channels you should focus your SEO efforts on, and which products or services will provide the best ROI.
In SEO, the numbers will always be important, as ranking positions will always determine the success of any efforts. However, intelligence should be given just as much attention, as it is only with the latter that efforts can be streamlined for more effective results.