blyk’s new brand-led business model

blyk was one of the most interesting brand stories from the Marketing Society's Annual Conference last week, where I was speaking on recession-proof branding. Founder Antti Ohrling told us the story of blyk, which is a free mobile network for 16-24 year olds funded by targeted advertising that now has 200,000 "members", and has already run 2,000 campaigns.
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Lot to learn from blyk's "brand-led business model":

1. Get inspiration from other categories
Antti described how inspiration for blyk came from the free morning newspaper, Metro, that has revolutionised the newspaper market in the UK. If this business model could work for newspapers, why not for mobile?

2. Tight targetting
Like most great brands, blyk has a very tightly focused target, in this case 16-24 year olds. This makes the brand appealing, as it can tailor its message and tone to these people. It also makes it appealing to advertisers, as this group of people is very hard to reach with conventional media.

3. Adapt to your target
Mobile advertising has up to now been a holy grail. Lots of long term promise, no short term results. Part of the problem was that a lot of the adverising was too fancy, using slow-to-download video.

blyk has cleverly adpated to the target audience, by using the dominant mobile medium they use: text messaging. An example for L'Oreal is shown below:

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4. Create audience/member engagement
The great thing about blyk for brand owners is that all the blyk members have opted in to get advertising from brands relevant to them. This is very cool. We spend a lot of time batting away messages from brands we're not interested in. But many of us don't actually mind ads for brand we like.

The proof of the audience engagement is in the reponse rate. What do you reckon they get? 1 to 2% is considered good for a lot of direct marketing. Well, these guys get 25%. On a recent campaign for Lucozade, blyk accounted for 1% of the marketing spend and 35% of the vouchers redeemed.

5. Great "sausage" = word-of-mouth
blyk is a good example of a brand built without advertising, but rather
on the back of a great sausage/product. The brand already has a high
"net advocacy score" (net score of people recommending) equal to Facebook and My Space. "Member-get-member" marketing is the main way they grow their user base.

6. Nice "sizzle" too
The look, feel and style of the brand is also nice. Very different from the big mobile networks, who have to of course cater for a much broader range of audiences.

One of the most interesting brands I've come across this year. And one to watch I think.