“Marketing Goes Digital”: highlights from brand new book

This post shares some key takeouts from a new book by two fellow former P&G'ers (Johan Eriksson and David Ståhlberg) who both became Google guys in the Nordic region. The book packs an interesting one-two punch. First, it reinforces some key branding principles that we believe in and post on. Second, it has a practical intro to digital marketing that offers a good grounding in some key concepts. Its also highly practical, with plenty of checklists and tips you can start applying straight away.

1. Be people-centric 

Perhaps the single most important message in the book is that digital technology should be focused on making brands more people-centric, not less. The idea proposed is "sweetspot marketing" which helps grow a business but also solves a problem for consumers or makes their life better. This may sound obvious, but  I've see first hand how companies can be too focused on the tech, and not enough on the consumer, in consumer goods companies and through my work investing and mentoring digital start-ups. And without a people focus a brand will indeed struggle, as I posted on here, using the example of Friends Reunited. 

This social media pioneer helped people re-discover old school friends online and was bought for $250m in 2005, but sold on for a paltry $35m in 2009 and then closed down. The insight was flawed, being based on the desire of to look up old school friends. Once you'd spent an awkward drink with a couple of school mates who were no longer mates and, more importantly, confirmed the boy who jilted you was a fat, unemployed slob you were done; the service proposition lacked "stickiness".

A good example of being people-centric is how Airbnb used insight into travel to create its new campaign, "Don't visit. Live there", as I posted on here

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2. Its all about penetration, not loyalty

Its refreshing to see digital marketing dudes NOT claiming that marketing is all about loyalty or engagement. Instead, Johan and David recommend focusing on driving penetration, quoting the work of Prof Byron Sharp that I started posting on here, back in 2011. They also point out the limitations of social media to drive penetration. First, most people who use a brand's social media page are already using the brand. Second, when you look at the small percentage of people interacting with branded Facebook pages, the absolute numbers in most cases are too small to make a big impact on penetration. You can read more about this in our research paper, "Can Social Media Show you the Money" (see excerpt below).

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3. The importance of distinctive brand assets

The book recommends that companies "Define what assets to use consistently in all communication by surveying people about the symbols, colours and cues they already associate." The concept of distinctive assets is a key one we use in brandgym projects, and was at the heart of our own Grow the Core book. The research we posted on here confirms that marketing directors agree with Johan and David: 83% said they are extremely important. But the same research also showed how most companies don't have a proper system in place to measure and manage brand properties.

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4. Use digital along the decision journey

Decision journeys are becoming more and more important, and I liked the simple framework the book proposes based on SEE, THINK, DO. David and Johan than go on to explain in more detail how to establish the right metrics and how adapt your used of digital and conventional marketing for each stage.

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5. Maximise relevance using programmatic

This was later section of the book was one that I found particularly interesting, offering some great examples of how companies are using programmatic technology to optimise their marketing. Programmatic marketing optimises your marketing automatically, based on the KPIs you set. For example, you can cap the frequency of seeing a message, or adapt a message based on whether the consumer has already interacted with your brand.

Its one thing to set up such a system. But the big gains come when you have a culture based on "relentless optimisation". Rather than the conventional consumer goods marketing world where testing takes weeks or even months, welcome to the world of "always on" testing. The book has great examples of how optimisation boosted "conversion rates" (CVR) at CarpetVista.com, Europe’s biggest online retailer for carpets:

  • Default image size changed to a larger format: CVR +13.3%.
  • Urgency – Add a line saying ‚“Unique – only one in stock“: CVR +6%.
  • Default number of products on list page from 12 to 36: CVR by +5.15%.

In conclusion, marketing goes digital is a nice blend of branding fundamentals and how to apply these by harnessing the power of digital technology. As David and Johan rightly point out, its not about old or new school marketing, its about the best of both worlds. 

More on the book here if you are interested in finding out more.