Multisensory Marketing

More evidence that 2017 is the got damn future. If voice activated home robots, smartphones replacing desktops and shoes that monitor your health doesn’t convince you how fast trends adopt, allow me to shake your foundation again with the advent of multisensory marketing.

No, you can’t smell that delicious food from the Tasty video, just yet. But, augmented reality becomes redefined with sight/sound/movement. According to Facebook’s recent study,  by 2020, over 75% of the world’s mobile data traffic will be video.

As Facebook IQ puts it, “The average attention span is said to now be shorter than that of a goldfish. But that’s only half the story. As people are exposed to a continuous and ever-growing stream of information, our ability to consume it has sped up. And as both findings are even more pronounced among younger generations, the future will be fast.

As our ability to consume information grows, consumers expect more from our communication. Engagement becomes a real-time opportunity through the technology being developed. Imagine skype meets video with customer service. It’s on the way.

More importantly, I want to talk to you about taking advantage of multisensory approach today. When planning a campaign in online media, how can you craft a “true to life” experience for the user? Some ways to do this right now:

  • Use 360 photo and vid tech to give the user a feeling of being there. Users spend 40% more time on 360 than reg vids.
  • Develop adaptive micro-sites based on experiences instead of stagnant content.
  • Ramp up your video strategy ASAP! Focus on 3 second previews and run multivariate tests to capture a longer-viewing audience. The latest studies show that video connection is biological. People stare at video 5x longer than any other content.
  • Sound is important to a multisensory strategy. Music, voiceovers and the like should be paramount to you now.
  • Mobile first. It goes without saying. But, if you design on mobile only, your chances of capturing the right buyers dramatically increases. And, no, I am not talking about responsive websites. That is so 2004.
  • Try to capture your brand’s humanity. If your campaigns, engagement and communication is personified, the assets you put out will have a better chance of brand recall.
  • People can recall content after only seeing it for 0.25 seconds! Use tech to speed message delivery.
  • Focus on delight. You want to surprise your viewers, entertain them. Several years ago, I talked about advertainment as a must in online strategy. The problem? Agency workflow isn’t set up to connect creative and media as a seamless process.
  • Run media in good times, not desperation. When that click must equal a sale, the desperation comes out in your communication. It stifles possibilities and crushes creativity. A lot of companies run tight and don’t have a planned “innovation” marketing budget. Innovating scares a lot of bottom-line marketers. Should you see results? Hell yes. But, what kind? These trends call for a redefinition of return.

I could go on and on about the sensory experiences available. They are going to continue to explode and no doubt, the social media platforms like Facebook will be the ones ushering them in. On the last point I made, I would like to drive that home for you.

Innovation is problem solving with acceptable risk.

Just as Google lets employees spend 10% of their work time on whatever idea/project/innovation they want, you need to carve a budget out for the same.

Five Taglines that Flat-line.

Taglines have long been the cornerstone of good branding.  A bad tagline is like a bad pickup line.  Lately, I kind of wonder what you’re all smoking. 🙄

I have 4 daughters, and I know good and well, before settling on a name, I went through hours of any way these names could be used against them.

Why, then, when in a branding exercise, do some destinations and communities settle on the ridiculous?

Here are 5 sh*tty taglines, though we won’t name names.  But, hey, call me – I’m a good brand therapist. 😉

  1. Welcome home.  
    • What in the living blue hell is wrong with you?  You are marketing to travelers.  Operative word being travel.  If I wanted to be home, I’d just do that.  This one tops my list as the most insane decision.  I can picture the room and that conversation.  “Everyone feels so comfortable here and they identify themselves with our city.” Ok, fair enough.  But, let’s poke that box a little, shall we?  “Find yourself”, “Let X city introduce you to the real you” and “Meet the you you’ve dreamed of.” are all better than, “welcome home” for travel.  “Welcome home” as in, I can walk around in my underwear?
  2. Like no where else.
    • Another turd of a line.  First, if you have roads, trees, sky and people – that gauntlet thrower holds no water.  Second, how is this a selling point?!?  Hell is like nowhere else, but you can save my invitation.
  3. Uniquely (insert destination name)
    • This one, which is RAMPANT, pushes my bore button almost as hard as it pushes my lazy button.  Some branding agency, who could not find anything redeemable about your place, decided to sell you “unique” for a good 6 figures for 6 minutes.  Unique is what you call the weird kid, the smelly band geek, the person who’s personality is so alarming.  But, “bless their hearts, they are “unique””.  If your city sucks, fix it.  A truly good partner in marketing won’t tell you otherwise and take your money.
  4. Simply (insert destination name)
    • Simply is slightly better than uniquely, but still a pile of day-old pizza.  Simply does a better job than the former, as it conjures natural assets.  But, I can throw a dart at a map of the US and hit  the “simply” tag line 100 times.  It lacks being “unique”.:-P
  5. Visit (x)
    • Another lazy one, and by far my most loathed.  About a decade and a half ago, we finally figured out that no visitor on the planet knew what a CVB was.  A whole damn slew decided to change their official names and “Visit XYZ” blew up.  Like, really blew up.  Like “Jennifer” in 1974, (thanks Mom) blew up.   So, this is fine if that’s what you have as your official name, but some of the violators have gone further – they dropped a tagline all together.  As if, merely pulling an Ike Turner, and demanding they visit, will make them comply.  It’s lazy, it’s demanding and it’s getting no brownie points.  Why am I visiting, what am I going to do when I get there, why do I have to visit?  I have questions.

 

I realize that some of you DMO leaders were saddled with a tagline approved by a committee.  Because, we all know committees make the most creative decisions. 🙄  At least use your campaigns to emotionally connect with your audience.  I visited a website of one of the “Welcome Home” violators, and as I was browsing the web for other things later in the day (most likely, “My kid swallowed a dime, what to do”), up served were remarketing banners from said city.  First, a big kudos for working the pixel. My delight changed to anguish as I read the ad.  The ad did not ask me if I’d like to pick up where I left off choosing attractions.  It did not give me an incentive to return. You know what it did?  Repeated the tagline and generic city shot.  XYZ City.  Welcome Home.  Cheese and rice on a cracker!  How is this enticing, why would someone re-visit or finish planning a trip?

I am self-aware that my latest bits are getting preachy and maybe even a little aggressive.  For that, I apologize.  But, I will not apologize for the truth encased in them.  It’s the first step to change.  It’s the one who challenges you that will make you better.  Be better, demand more of yourself and your community.  Really test how that tagline plays for your brand, and make sure to compare it to others using the same.

Today, it is not your brand, it is not my brand.

It’s our brand, yours and mine.

The users, the visitors, the tweeters and the grammers.  The brand belongs to us.  Let’s talk about it.

Dear YouTube, are you *sure* you want to do that?

Another major shift in an Internet giant points to a classic mistake of following the money.

Unless you live under a rock, you probably know about the YouTube Ad Apocalypse. If not, here’s the TLDR version:

YouTubers gain a huge following by creating content people want to watch. (no surprise). Sometimes they say things that are controversial. (yeah, got it) Brands who spend millions in ad spend got scared they would get flack if their ad ran on said videos, and pulled their ad budget. (uh, oh) YouTube did two things, and the Internet lost its mind. 1) They converted new video content from major YouTubers into ‘restricted mode’, aka can’t be viewed. 2) Subscribers to said channels were unsubscribed and could not resubscribe to their favorite channels.

With me so far? Good. Seems pretty logical on the surface. Revenue was threatened, teach those wiley YouTube kids that they need to stay in line if they want to use “free speech”.

When people (or corporations) start to make an insane amount of money, the primary focus is protecting and growing that money. Often losing sight of “where they came from”. The breakdown in this business model shift is the fault of the platform and the advertisers.

First, why is this a bad thing? “I mean, c’mon Jenn, there’s some pretty nasty content on YouTube and we need to protect people from being exposed to anything that’s not “PC”. OK, George Orwell, calm down. Do you think YouTube blew up because users only uploaded videos of kittens and rainbows? Admittedly, I’ve watched my fair share of cat vids. But, the titan blew up because it was an unfiltered user-generated television channel. In short order, people learned how to create content that people loved and YouTuber became a very lucrative job. See ya, ‘starving artist’. I see this spanking and content censoring a very bad thing. These guys have millions of followers. Let that word set in, ‘followers’. If content and entire channels take their views and videos somewhere else…they will probably take those viewers, AKA potential customers of advertisers with them. How valuable are those advertising video views going to be when you are losing content and viewers? Admittedly, that’s a dystopian view of an internet brand as much a household word as their owner, Google. But, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that market share could shake. The internet is still, at it’s heart, a place for people to gain access to new media entertainment. When something stops being cool, the people of the Interwebs just leave.

In this point summary, this is bad because censoring free and popular speech makes it less cool. And, content creators who now are making 1/2 a paycheck bc subscribers and views took a dive, will move and take the fans with them. After all, “mess with my money, you mess with my emotions”

Second reason this is a bad thing? Advertisers need to get a clue. If you are using behavioral marketing, your target audience just might be watching a PewDiePie vid on a topic they are curious about. Demographic, overly-managed demo targeting didn’t work. We tried it, and we found out the individual does not live in a neat, little box. Sometimes, behavior is erratic and not associated with “boxed research”. I don’t care what my customer does on the web, I want to be in front of them if they’ll be a good match for my product. Here’s why: all money is green, it is not my place as a marketer to judge anyone, and business/politics/religion/free speech do not mix. By pulling your ad from website or video that you don’t agree with, you are judging your customers. And, people don’t buy from judgy-mcjudgerston.

Bottom line: YouTube made billions by owning nothing on the backs of user-generated content. Now, they are taking millions out of their pockets in order to appease and keep more billions from brands who can’t understand an ad roll does not mean endorsement. It’s been 20 years for these brand dinosaurs to learn about digital marketing. I understand a learning curve, but get your sh*t together, fr.

This is 100% personal opinion and I am not saying don’t use or advertise on YouTube. I’m just saying, it might go vanilla and the world wants sprinkles.

What is a futurist and do I need one?

Futurists are the most endearing of the geek family. Some of us are your card-carrying sci-fi fanatics, the we-are-going-to-live-on-mars, robots-will-take-over, we-will-all-be-chipped-by-2021 daydreamers. And, the get-your-butt-in-gear-and-don’t-miss-it variety. I tend to be the latter. Pragmatic prognosticators understand the business case of futurist work. Futurists can provide C-suite execs advice that will help them avoid disastrous strategies.

Let’s start with the first question I get all the time, second only to “Can you make me go viral?”.

What does a futurist do?:

  • They tap into their experience in a field of work and notice the patterns that make their next bet a pretty sure thing.
  • They coach out the old. Often, a futurist will reduce risks of a competitive edge shift or market shift for a client.
  • They find, address and reorganize missed opportunities for client growth.
  • They help with clarifying goals and realistic actions for the clients near and long term needs.

Do you need a futurist?:

  • If your strategic plan has or does not include a “disruptor” factor.
  • If you *think* you are on top of your marketing game, but don’t have the empirical data to prove it.
  • If you do not have at least one risk goal and dedicate 10% of your team and budget to it.
  • If you still care about your website.
  • If you or your team has been in this job for 5+ years.
  • If you aren’t the disruptor in your industry.
  • If you want to test your strategies against market shifts.

Of course, I’m never going to tell you there is a situation that wouldn’t benefit from a second opinion from an experienced futurist. But, you should be clear on why you are hiring them and for what specific purpose. We do not read crystal balls, and predictions are only about 5% of what a good futurist relies on.

The best way to put it is this:

Futurists are strategists that have enough experience to look ahead 5 or 10 steps.

When I receive resistance from a client, I often find out it’s because of fear. Getting a strategy audit feels a little like getting called into the principal’s office. Your internal monologue may go a little something like this:

“They are going to “find out” everything your organization is missing, messing up on. And, they may ask you to change. I mean, hell, don’t you work hard enough already and haven’t you added on 17 new media outlets in the last 18 months already. There’s only so much a human can do! So, back off with your challenging, easy-for-you-to-say strategies. I’m doing just fine at keeping my job as is, thankyouverymuch!”

Here, have some truth: You are not meant to just pay bills and die. In between “keeping up” and being a market leader is a damn fine career you can be proud of. A good futurist will understand the fear and find solutions based on your situation. We are not going to ask you to change gears and start selling flying cars (but wouldn’t that be cool?).

What a futurist is not:

  • They are not a “guru”, only entry-level punks use that word.
  • They are not your parents. If you give an excuse not to do something, they are not going to write a note to the “powers that be” to get you out of gym class.
  • They are not “growth hackers” Another buzzword I loathe, why on earth would you want the word hacker associated with a professional career.
  • They are not soothsayers. Looking back at my trend prediction scorecard, I’ve missed a few due to the fact that I’m not psychic (which would also be cool, btw)
  • They are not tacticians. A lot of the time, when a fururists job is done, it’s easy for the client to ask the futurist to do the work for them. Nope, nope, nope. Stay in your lane. You can’t see the forest for the trees, and all that jazz.

To close out this little futurists are viable consultants manifesto, I will tell you why I am a futurist. I’ve done the work and managed it, delighted and disappointed clients, won and fell on my ass, done the never-been-done and fulfilled the overlooked. I pay homage to my path, because I demand that of myself. My experiences have given me a special talent to foresee strategy in an unique way, to understand client fear and limitation, and the path to clear up and move forward on any directive. I do it to honor those who have worked with me. I do it because that’s the talent I’ve been bestowed. I do it because I cannot live life any other way.

 xoxo, jb

The Martech Unicorn

Martech (Marketing + Technology) is the “holy grail” of today’s marketing objectives.

By 2020, over 90% of the world will make purchasing decisions solely on digital information.

The question is, do you turn a marketing person into a technologist, or a technologist into a marketing person?

Spoiler alert:  Neither.

 

In my humble opinion and experience, you have to be forged in both…right from the start.

Left brain and right brain in a symphony of problem-solving.  I’ll admit, it irks me when I see MarTech recruiting with a print background.  Ok, so you get  what a bleed is and you understand paper weight, finishes and runs.  But, do you – when working on brand opportunities – know the music of digital response.  Do you know what can “Kill the click”, why advertising online today is more trustworthy than ever?

We might be unicorns, but there is a tribe of us (gen X) that have entire careers in technology and marketing, they are not a separate thing.  These two disciplines have never been divided for us.  We were there before Google, listing our clients on Yahoo! and Lycos.  We were in chat rooms before social media.  We were refining email campaigns when most of the addresses were aol.com.

We were earning consumer trust one click at a time.

And here we are, battle-hardened and forged in bytes.  All hail to you, my brethren in martech arms.

xoxo, Jenn

In advertising, we trust.

In recent surveys, it turns out that 61% of Americans trust the advertising they see, and 72% view all advertising as honest.  A 16% jump from the last two years.  Meanwhile, only 32% of Americans trust the news.  The NEWS.

*sources:  Gallup, Axios

What does this mean?

Below are my predictions:

  • Media costs will skyrocket, again.
  • PR will be less effective.
  • Video ads will be the big winner.
  • Promoted content on news sites just lost ALL ITS VALUE.
  • Impressions mean something.  Remember the poll was about advertising they “see”.  The messages are getting through and they are deemed as truth.
  • Real-time metrics will become less meaningful.  Clicks this hour will not represent attention or trust.  They’ll be a reversal of economic impact measurement while the market works out the buying cycle to trust.

The advice:

  • Saddle up with emotionally connected, honest campaigns.  Really invest in high production quality.  Try hiring a consultant who can pull together a Cadillac crowd-source of talent.
  • Choose disruptive platforms.  Streaming shows with uninterrupted commercial time is a good bet.  Re-marketing pixels that deliver believable benefits on a repetition.
  • Double down on media spend.  Media buys should be your number one priority of the moment.  Shift budget from sources that are viewed as untrusted.
  • For the love of Pete, hire a media strategist that has been in the trenches longer than Facebook.  With this type of opportunity on the line, you should not be taking risks.  Just because someone knows how to push the buttons for your media campaign, does not mean they know “why” someone will or won’t respond.
  • Strategy and measurement will be very important.  Hire an agnostic party who is a media veteran and can guide and measure the process in a more modern way than web traffic, clicks and shares.

Good luck, it’s about to get real crazy out there for advertisers.  As always, if assistance is needed, give me a shout.

~~~~~~~

Jennifer Barbee is a 22 year media veteran and advertising futurist.  She’s been named a Female Entrepreneur of the Year in Advertising & Media by the Stevie Awards and a Top 20 Mom in Business by StartUp Nation.

The Revolution will not be Televised.

Five years ago, the technology of today seemed like science fiction. In the late 90s and early 2000s, when I was young and attempting to sell websites to businesses, I received a barrage of negativity that the web was “just a phase”. As recent as 2008, an executive told me, “I don’t understand people who spend 10-15 hours a week on the Internet, but then again, I don’t understand pedophiles.” What the WHAT?!? Did this man just discount the web and call me a pedo in one breath?!? I should tell you he went on to be one of my biggest fans and wrote one of the most compelling, sweetest reference letters of my career. He just needed patience and empirical data to shift his perspective. I was happy to provide.

Let me now spill the tea. What you think you know about the next 5 or 10 years in communication and advertising is completely wrong. Dead wrong. Even futurists are conservative in their prognostications, in my opinion.

Smartphones have reached the masses, this means the trends are about to shift. Already, the desktop is an accessory to the smartphone. The iOT (Internet  of Things) is rarely understood, but already plaguing our daily lives.  I interviewed 37 destinations and businesses over the summer of 2016, and NOT ONE had plans to use iOT as a marketing channel.

Augmented Reality (AR) seems a kitchy buzzword to many, reserved for the “geeks” who play Pokemon Go.  BIG MISTAKE.  HUGE.

Before you can steer your marketing spend in the next direction, consumers will already have adopted AR in a natural habitat.  The world, with a lens of information.

The future is deviceless.  And, it’s not 20 years away.

You meet someone for the first time and AR delivers their social profiles and cv to explore.  You stand outside a restaurant and can view a layer of customer reviews, menu and daily specials.

The next (near term) phase of technology and communications will come on so naturally, smartphones will be viewed like the 80s brick cells. And, you won’t be ready because you are still catching up on digital marketing that you began too slow.

I’m not even going to get into the “robots” and AI (artificial intelligence/machine learning) that has already become so standard, you might not even recognize it’s all around you.

Here’s some brutal truth you need to hear:  Your search strategy is shit.  Your social media marketing is mediocre, at best.  And, you are going to miss the boat of another tectonic shift in communication because of fear.

Imagine if Destination Marketing Organizations had understood and heavily invested in websites/Internet in the 1990s.  There would be no OTAs, DMOs would enjoy, not only market capitalization, but booking fees to fund their smart city.  Instead, DMOs are behind the market, fighting for bed tax not collected  by the OTA d’jour.

I implore you, to look at shifting strategy NOW before technology out paces your media plan.

As always, I’m available for counsel with my fellow rebels with a cause.

Yours in tech solidarity,

Jenn

The Need for Destinations to Invest in Local Businesses Now

Traditionally, DMOs have helped local businesses market to tourists in a myriad of ways:  co-op campaigns, premium exposure on DMO owned media, ads and listings in travel guides and sales missions.  The “trickle-down” marketing strategy has run it’s course.

With self-run, low cost digital promotional opportunities, the small local restaurant has just as much of a chance of over-booking travelers and capturing brand attention as, well, the destination itself.

The problem is, by relying heavily on advertising and marketing service agencies, most DMOs don’t have the capacity, the trade secrets or the incentive to properly train local businesses.  This is unfortunate, and leaves local businesses to rely on their own budget to market, often with costly mistakes.  Even with self-published media sites like Facebook and Google, a lot of ad budget can be wasted if the nuances of closed loop marketing, remarketing and drip marketing are not fired or understood.

I’ve spent a career (hell, almost a lifetime) of 20 years educating, innovating and leading DMOs to their digital success.  In that time, I’ve been fortunate enough to gain access to practices and tools that are not widely talked about outside the halls of global media firms.  At that, very few marketing service firms for destinations employ many, if any of them. I desperately want to shout to the DMO community what a disservice they could be doing to themselves…and if you’ve heard me speak – you know I do!jenn_speaking

I fully realize after working with over 400 DMOs and their stakeholders, that the most effective way to gain a competitive edge for their destination is to make each and every one of their local businesses an absolute powerhouse of digital marketing.  Teaching those businesses how to *actually* connect ROI to earned media, how to pitch and land media exposure every time and the trade secrets to sponsored media opportunities that yield 300x return will give your travel marketing a boost so significant, your board won’t believe it.

Imagine your city/region/state with dozens or hundreds of self-contained digital marketing media shops.  Instead of a stakeholder complaint about a listing or co-op media, imagine the praise lauded by a business owner whose profits have doubled due to the training gained.  Sound too good to be true?  Let’s talk about Destination Amp Camp.

Sh*t to Quit in 2017

Sorry I haven’t posted in a while.  I’m helping clients launch some very exciting businesses and working on a new program to help women step into their executive power.  Good stuff to come!  Now, here’s what’s on my mind today…

While everyone is making 2017 resolutions, let me remind you of something.  Time and the calendar is a human construct.

Every day is an opportunity for resolution and growth.

I probably know more about growth than I publicly want to admit.  I’ve been as low as possible and I’ve been a millionaire using only $40 to get started.  I  know a little about facing the broken version of yourself in the mirror and still doing what needs to be done to feed the children.  What I know most is that quitting bullshit that does not serve you is as important, if not paramount, to reaching your goals, personal and professional.  Stop reading that crappy book, walk away from the relationship that makes you feel less than, quit the job that goes nowhere.

 Make space for the inspired, the divine, the fated.

If you must plan for the magical New Year, plan on quitting the bullshit.  Here, let me help.

  1.  Stop calling yourself a Mompreneur.

It classifies you as less than an entrepreneur.  Either you are a boss or you’re not.  Playing the woman card means you can’t hack it in the “regular Olympics”.  You are enough.  Your vision is enough.  Own it.

2.  Quit putting unrealistic time constraints on things.

No, none of us know how much time we have.  And, it’s usually shorter than we want or deserve.  But, do you want to linger around years after you made your unrealistic goals – only to reflect on the relationships you neglected to make those goals?  Or, do you want to die with purpose on your breath?  Just start.  Do the thing, it will take on a life of it’s own.  Maybe that’s a year, maybe that’s a decade.  Enjoy every fu*&ing minute of this life and quit putting ungodly restraints on yourself.  Have some goals, abso-freaking-lutely.  But, let them do their thing as you make beast moves to realize them.

3.  Quit settling.

If you *do* want to reach your goals quickly, may I suggest you quit settling for less than you deserve?  Want a better car? Get disgusted by the one you have.  Want a better lifestyle?  Don’t tighten your belt, raise your damn standards.  Raising your standards and refusing to be anything but the vision of yourself you want is a real quick way to get what you want on a fast track.  Would that ideal version of you do what you are doing?  No?   Then cut that shit out.

4.  Stop seeing the best in people.

I try to live a positive life and appreciate everyone for their unique gifts.  I love each and every person I know.  That does not mean I give them credit for qualities they do not have.  I’m THANKFUL when people are not as capable, nice, trustworthy, etc as I would expect.  It GROWS ME, it causes me to find fulfillment in what I give myself, not what someone else can provide

5.  Quit buying “get rich quick” books and program schemes.

You know how those authors got rich quick?  They sold you on their system.  Garbage.  Yeah, the guy at the top is rich, you sucker.  If getting rich is your goal: find a problem, fix it. (^^,)  There, I saved you $299.99

 

Just my own meandering advice.  Love and light to you all!  Love yourselves enough to quit the crap and embrace self-development.