How to Breathe New Life Into Old Content

Content marketing is a great way to engage new prospects. But, constantly churning out marketing content is unrealistic. Leveraging old content, however, is free.

You spent a lot of time and effort to create your messaging, which you dutifully employed in your marketing. It’s all over your website and social media. You used it in email distribution to your network and perhaps even in a blog or white paper. That’s great, but do you realize fresh content doesn’t age well? Within weeks, the search bots have moved on, your customers have seen it, perhaps read it and moved on, and a prospect probably had no reason to read it to begin with. Why? Because a customer or prospect views content from a singular perspective: what’s in it for me?

Content marketing is one of the most important ways to attract a prospect to engage with your brand. Sadly, unless you have a dedicated team who understands the true purpose of content, and with a mandate to continually churn out fresh content and gain followers, simply distributing your elevator speech will not suffice. It’s expensive and time-consuming to build new creative. So, the odds are that at some point you’ll find yourself trying to figure out how to create marketing content on a budget. 

The 3 Rs of Creating Marketing Content on a Budget

Any marketing department with a content campaign running typically follows these steps:

  • Build a piece of content (white paper, video, infographic, etc.) that speaks to your audience with useful and meaningful solutions to their issues.
  • Add the content piece to your website.
  • Push the content piece out via your social channels.
  • Send the content piece out via email to your distribution list.

Then you quickly move on to the next piece of content or campaign for the rinse and repeat cycle.

It costs a whole lot to create new content, and it’s far more economical to pull historic content off the shelf to give it a new lease on life. An easy way to think about how to accomplish this is with the “3 R’s” of content creation – Repurpose, Reposition and Reuse.


Let’s say the content piece is from last year. It’s a topic that’s worked and still has legs. However, your audience has seen this particular piece. It might be time to re-purpose the content. With this strategy, you take one piece of content and turn it into a bunch of other pieces using the same core content. Turn a single white paper into one or more blog posts, a slide deck, and a podcast. The expanded variety of media will engage with a new set of prospects, who may not have been interested in reading long-form content. To capture potential leads, direct visitors to the original white paper as a call to action in the introduction of the repurposed content.


Sometimes just changing up how the white paper is positioned with a few small edits to the body copy and a new headline will create something that looks and feels new. What has happened within your industry since the original white paper was published? Is there a new, fresh twist that can be included? This is probably the simplest way to breathe some life into an older piece.


You’ve already shared this content. The whole world has already seen it, so why do they want it again? While I’d love to think that everybody reads each email, dives into every blog post, and absorbs all the points of the original content, it just doesn’t work that way. Your customers and prospects only care about your content if it is meaningful when they need it, and their needs don’t always align with your marketing calendar. What wasn’t of interest six months ago, could be the answer to their current problem. Hit re-send to the people that didn’t open the email or click on the original link. In addition, think of all the contacts you’ve added to your database since you first published the piece. They don’t know it’s repurposed. Remember, there is a lot of content out there. Your visitors are pummeled with messages every day. Use these strategies and engage people that have shown some level of interest and that will find it useful and relevant.

Need Some Extra Hands to Create Marketing Content?

Reach out to us! We can help you develop a strategy and create compelling content that targets your audience.

What Happens When Operational or Individual Employee Misconduct Creates a Business Crisis?

After Uber’s license was suspended in London, we had to wonder how PR professionals were handling the situation…

London’s transport regulator has ruled that Uber cannot renew its license in the city because of a “pattern of failures” that puts passenger safety and security at risk. The company has 21 days to appeal (Update: as of December 16, they have appealed) the decision and can continue to operate in the city during that time.

What Happened?

The UK government transport authority, Transport for London, found out that more than 14,000 trips booked through Uber’s platform had been taken with uninsured drivers. It said the company was failing to do adequate checks on drivers, insurance, and safety, and breaches in these things had put passengers at risk. The biggest issue it identified was that a change to Uber’s systems let unauthorized drivers upload their photos to other drivers’ accounts, meaning customers couldn’t be sure they’d get the driver they had booked. Crucially, the regulator said it did “not have confidence that similar issues will not reoccur in the future,” which has led it to conclude that the company “is not fit and proper at this time.”

There are 45,000 drivers who work for Uber in the UK capital who await a final decision over the future of their jobs. It won’t necessarily be a major blow to consumers, who can pick from one of the many other ride-hailing apps available, or get one of the city’s famous black cabs.  But what will be the long-term impact on Uber’s ability to continue providing ride-hailing services around the world? Will other cities follow suit and ban the service? And how in the heck is a PR professional supposed to spin this story?

A PR Professional’s Answer:

You must never spin anything. Spinning a story without company management addressing the underlying cause of the crisis is like trying to put lipstick on a pig. It will still be a pig, only with red lips. What is required is for Uber to clean up its operational act rather than try and cover it up, and to then initiate Public Relations to tell the story of how they used this event as a wake-up call to improve their services and the safety of the consumers.

How to Properly Communicate a Business Crisis:

Publicly recognize there is a problem. Provide a detailed plan the company will initiate to fix the problem, and regularly self-report on the company’s progress. Good news can trump bad news ONLY if it’s true and authentic.

Are You in a Business Crisis?

Get ahead of the situation and contact us. In the meantime, check out some of our content on crisis communication, like Dan’s take on how to handle a crisis, or Lisa’s video on identifying if you are really in a crisis.

PR is Changing: Here’s Why it Matters

Predicting trends is easy. But how often do those predictions come true? Let’s take a look at 2019.

These are the predictive trends for PR in 2019. Now that we’re over two thirds through the year, let’s see how accurate these predictions have been.

From an article written December 12, 2018 in PR Forward by Jenn Deering Davis:

4 Trends Changing the Future of Digital PR in 2019

Clearly, a lot is changing to bring us into this brave new world of truly digital PR. Here are the PR trends are we particularly excited about for 2019:

More and More Measurement

As our work becomes increasingly digital, we’re able to measure every step of the communications process, from output to outcomes. Using real-time data, along with the insights pulled from that data, we can understand precisely how our messages are received and by whom, so we can adjust our message and optimize its impact. We have access to comprehensive online, print, broadcast and social media monitoring and analysis. We have intelligent media contacts databases and tools to manage relationships and outreach. We have real-time alerts and notifications that tell us the moment something happens.

All that technology means we can create smarter, more targeted pitches that have a better chance of getting picked up. It also means PR and comms teams can now prove their impact through data, right alongside the marketing team. We can track views, engagement, clicks, downloads, you name it. We have the ability to know how much traffic a particular piece of earned media drives to our website. We know more about the demographic characteristics of an audience than ever before. 

All this data can be overwhelming. In fact, it can be downright distracting. But, when harnessed appropriately, we can focus in on a few specific KPIs to measure the true impact of our team’s PR efforts and how they relate to an organization’s business goals.

TRUE. Increased measurement is reality in 2019 and has become a vital tool in the PR professional’s arsenal.

Integration With Marketing and Beyond

In 2019, public relations will be seen as the powerful partner to marketing that it is. As organizations turn to a more integrated communications strategy, comms and PR pros have a unique opportunity to take a bigger seat at an organization’s leadership table. There are a number of ways to integrate with and amplify our results through the rest of the marketing team, from social media and content marketing, to lead generation and paid media.

This includes building a closer relationship with our company’s social and paid media teams by sharing the most interesting or most relevant earned media coverage, so they can post it across owned and paid channels. This provides those teams with additional credible content and further amplifies the earned media pieces to increase future brand recognition with a wider audience. 

Another way PR ties back to broader marketing efforts is through SEO and organic site and search traffic. It’s essential that PR pros understand how SEO works and what they can do to contribute to backlinks and other SEO-friendly tactics to support the marketing team. Earned media can boost credibility with search engines as well as the human audiences who read those articles. 

We can also use all these earned media insights to inform future content creation across our organizations, from blog and social posts, to ebooks, landing pages, webinars and more. Use earned media to learn what resonates with a target audience, so the entire marketing team can do more of what works (and less of what doesn’t).

TRUE. Social media teams, once independent, have been absorbed into the public relations team. PR is ultimately responsible for ALL communication between an organization and its publics. PR and social media must speak with one strategic voice and one message.

Focus on Flexibility and Experimentation 

We learned a lot of tough PR lessons in 2018, many of them related to how we use social media. Most of this centered around what turned into a pretty bad year for Facebook. There were numerous data breaches and privacy issues, constantly changing algorithms, data APIs that disappeared overnight, even widespread reports of inaccurate ad metrics. For those of us in PR and marketing, we found ourselves struggling to keep up and sometimes having to totally rethink our plans on just a few hours’ notice. 

The impact this has on our strategy moving forward is that we can’t rely on a particular distribution channel or campaign working the way it did last month, and we need to always be ready to change. That means we have to be flexible, read everything we can to stay up-to-date on the latest changes, and learn how to appropriately test out new ideas. We can’t put all our eggs in a single platform’s basket, so we need to diversify and adapt. 

TRUE. Facebook’s challenges in 2018 will be magnified in 2019 and 2020 by artificial intelligence. In a September 5th article in the MIT Technology Review, Will Knight discussed Facebook’s fear AI-generated “deepfake” videos could be the next big source of viral misinformation with potentially catastrophic consequences for individuals and organizations.

Evolution of Influencer Marketing and Influencer Relationship Management 

The job of the PR professional has always relied on good old-fashioned relationship building, which takes a great deal of time. PR pros know how important is it to establish a relationship with a journalist before sending a pitch

This year, interest in influencer marketing hit a fever pitch. We heard about influencers everywhere. Even the word “influencer” itself has lost a lot of its original meaning; “influencer” has become synonymous with “celebrity.” But when we talk about influencer relationship management, we’re really talking about a concept that is much broader and more sophisticated.

In 2019, PR and comms teams will develop more a nuanced understanding of influencer relationship management:

-At one end of the influencer spectrum, we have journalists—  experts in an industry, with a large and engaged audience eager to hear about a topic.

-Other media, social and micro-influencers comprise the rest of the continuum—  experts in a particular topic, with an engaged and relevant audience.

This even extends to B2B brands.

More and more of these IRM programs will live with PR and comms teams as organizations come to realize that influencer marketing is a lot more than just throwing money at celebrities for product placements; it’s a strategic process of extending the reach of your message to the audiences you care about through earned, paid and social media.2019 will be a year of change and opportunity, and it’s a year that communicators are equipped to face. We can’t wait to see what the next 12 months bring to the quickly evolving world of digital PR.

TRUE. Product placement and celebrity endorsement are becoming less important than social and micro-influencers as evidenced by brands canceling sports celebrity’s endorsements contracts overnight because of the athlete’s bad behavior. Brands made huge investments which turned to dust in a heartbeat.

What’s Next for Digital PR in 2020?

Subscribe to our blog to stay updated! We will surely be writing about exciting new trends as we enter another year.

Is Artificial Intelligence a Threat to Authentic Public Relations?

A new era of artificial intelligence and “deepfake” videos are sure to shake up the world of PR.

The textbook definition of public relations is: The management of communications between an organization and its publics.

Public relations professionals manage an organization’s reputation, community engagement and outreach, public persona, social media strategies, all public content and media relations. We create messaging strategies, long and short form content like white papers, thought leadership articles and blogs. Very rarely we are called upon to manage crisis communication, which could be anything from a product recall, to a workplace injury or accident, to an accusation of criminal behavior. Thankfully, in my 40-year career I have engaged in crisis communication on behalf of a client just four times. Contrary to what many believe, the vast majority of public and private organizations are managed legally and ethically.

Where AI and Public Relations Meet: “Fake News”

An increasing threat to authentic public relations is viral misinformation, what the media and political sphere has named “fake news.” Cordell Hull, Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Secretary of State once said, “A lie will gallop halfway round the world before the truth has time to pull its breeches on.” With the assistance of social media, this timeline has been vastly accelerated.

Fortunately, fake stories that appear in print on social media are easily debunked if the reader takes the time to do a little basic research. One can often revert to existing video to determine what the person actually said versus what others say they said.

But what if an emerging technology made it possible to create video images with voice that was completely undetectable as fake? What are the ramifications of a social media post suddenly appearing showing your company’s CEO giving a racist rant? That technology actually exists today.

AI Generated “Deepfake” Videos

On September 5th, 2019 in the MIT Technology Review, an article in the newsletter “The Algorithm” by Will Knight discusses Facebook’s fear AI-generated “deepfake” videos could be the next big source of viral misinformation—spreading among its users with potentially catastrophic consequences for private organizations, individuals and elections.

Here’s what “The Algorithm” article discussed:

“Facebook’s solution? Making lots of deepfakes of its own, to help researchers build and refine detection tools. Facebook has directed its team of AI researchers to produce a number of highly realistic fake videos featuring actors doing and saying routine things. These clips will serve as a data set for testing and benchmarking deepfake detection tools. The Facebook deepfakes will be released at a major AI conference at the end of the year.

The rise of deepfakes has been driven by recent advances in machine learning. It has long been possible for movie studios to manipulate images and video with software and computers, and algorithms capable of capturing and re-creating a person’s likeness have already been used to make point-and-click tools for pasting a person’s face onto someone else. Methods for spotting forged media exist, but they often involve painstaking expert analysis. Tools for catching deepfakes automatically are only just emerging.

Facebook’s CTO, Mike Schroepfer, says deepfakes are advancing rapidly, so devising much better ways to flag or block potential fakes is vital.

‘We have not seen this as huge problem on our platforms yet, but my assumption is if you increase access—make it cheaper, easier, faster to build these things—it clearly increases the risk that people will use this in some malicious fashion,’ Schroepfer, who is spearheading the initiative, said last night. ‘I don’t want to be in a situation where this is a massive problem and we haven’t been investing massive amounts in R&D.’

Comparing the effort to the fight against spam email, Schroepfer said Facebook may not be able to catch the most sophisticated fakes. ‘We’ll catch the obvious ones,’ he said. But he said Facebook isn’t employing any methods yet because the forgeries are improving so quickly.”

A New Era of AI and Public Relations

As is we didn’t have enough on our plate helping organizations manage their authentic communications, a new world is emerging, and public relations professionals need to stay abreast of the technologies that could be manipulated with malicious intent.

If you need help with traditional pr, or you need assistance with crisis communication, we can lend a hand.

Content Marketing Versus Copywriting

Dale shares the difference between content marketing and copywriting, and explains what to keep in mind when developing content

Simply stated, content marketing is creating and sharing valuable free content to attract customers seeking answers to questions about a product or service. Think explaining the category rather than selling.

Copywriting creates copy with a specific call to action and seeks to compel the reader to initiate a trial of a product or service. Think advertising.

If you don’t know the difference between content marketing and copywriting, chances are very high your content marketing is missing the mark, or worse, being dismissed as totally self-serving. So, what is the difference?

Big difference. Content is blogs, thought leadership whitepapers, podcasts and email autoresponders. Copywriting is sales pages, website copy, ads and direct mail.

Content Marketing does require good copywriting. This may seem contradictory to the statement above that differentiates between the two. In reality, it’s not.

Content marketing without good copywriting is a waste of words.

To write good content your copywriting skills will be invaluable. Here are some things to keep top of mind when writing good content.

Your headlines might be too dull. 

When your headlines are boring, they don’t give people any reason to click through to the rest of your writing.

Your headlines might be too cute and clever.

If this is the case, you’re simply showing how smart you are without communicating any reader benefits. If your headlines are too dull or too clever, take a step back by making great communication your primary goal. Leave the jokes for late-night talk show hosts.

You haven’t explicitly thought about how your content benefits readers.

Just like a product has to have a benefit to the buyer, your content has to be inherently rewarding to readers or they won’t come back to your blog or podcast. Always consider your audience, and make sure you have created a good content development strategy that outlines these goals and objectives.

Your content isn’t building any rapport or trust.

You can always get social media attention by espousing your political position or ranting about a social issue, but attention does not translate into followers.

You don’t have a clear, specific call to action.

“Wait! You said earlier a call to action is the domain of advertising!” Yes, I did, but don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. If you have crafted a well-written thought leadership article that clearly demonstrates industry-leading innovation, your readers are going to want to know what to do with this information. Tell them. Give them a path to the next step, not a sales pitch. Remember, copywriting is the art of convincing your reader to take a specific action. And yes, it’s still copywriting if it takes place in content marketing of a podcast or video.

Keep these principles of great content marketing in mind:

  • Be generous. When your free content is so valuable that it makes you a little uncomfortable, you know you’ve got it right.
  • Produce enjoyable content. If your content reads or sounds like an ad, it will be overlooked or thrown away. Make your content too valuable to throw away by wrapping it in wonderfully beneficial, readable content.
  • Write for people. Don’t make the mistake of writing for search engines. Always write for people first, and then make your content search-engine friendly so new readers can find you.

Need help crafting your content? Totally lost on creating a content development strategy? Let’s connect!

Why Your Brand Identity Is Killing You

Your brand identity is your face to the world. It is your reputation and determines whether customers trust your company.

Reputation Matters

Your brand identity is your face to the world. It is your reputation and determines whether customers trust your company, products or services. Most important, your brand is your only guarantee of future revenue.

To grasp the importance of your brand identity to future revenue, I have substituted the word ‘weak’ instead of the word ‘strong’ in these sentences:

  • Our brand identity is weak.
  • Our reputation is weak.
  • Customer trust in our products and services is weak.

I would not like to go to market if my customers perceived my company, products and services this way. When you think of brands that quickly come to mind, do you feel any are weak? Probably not. If a brand comes quickly to mind, chances are virtually 100% it’s a strong brand that is uniquely tied to a product or a service. Weak branding quickly fades into the background.

How to know if your company brand identity is weak or strong?

A strong brand is synonymous with the product or service. Example, the word Tide is immediately associated with laundry detergent, and the word Progressive with insurance. This is as true at the local level as it is on the national. In the tri-state area of Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky, the word Frisch’s is immediately associated with fast casual dining. These are no accidents. A great deal of effort built these brands into powerhouse status. Weak brands are forgettable and unrelated to the company’s mission. If your customers or prospects don’t know what you do, then you need to aggressively rebrand.

Another key indicator of a weak brand is recognition. If your company has been in business for a while, then you should be a familiar face at networking events, conferences and business seminars. If contacts you have made in spaces key to your industry keep asking which company you’re with, this indicates you have a weak brand. The same applies to your sales process. If your sales representatives must continually explain your company and its products and services to prospects, your brand is weak.

In the digital world, business is conducted across a variety of channels. Most companies have a website and a social media presence, and engage in some form of advertising and marketing. A strong brand will harness these different channels with a consistent message, leveraging Paid Media, Owned Media and Earned Media with consistent content that tells their story in a meaningful way. Your website and marketing may be highly professional, but an ill-advised or juvenile social comment can undo years of reputation building. Inconsistent and infrequent messaging weakens the brand.

Your best new customer is an existing customer. Loyalty will always be the cornerstone of a successful brand. But customer loyalty alone does not grow your business. Growing your customer base with new customers is the goal. Failing to attract new customers can happen for a variety of reasons: competition, pricing, quality issues and delivery deadlines, among others. If, however, none of these issues are significant enough to hamper your ability to attract new customers, take a hard look at your brand. You may not be telling your story well.

What can I do to strengthen my brand?

A weak brand does not necessarily mean your business is dead, but it does mean the business needs some resuscitation. Even highly successful companies rebrand to freshen their image. There’s no need to sell the ranch. It’s better to spend a little bit of money to revamp a stale brand than continue to miss opportunities. Here are some basic rebranding opportunities.

The first thing that comes to mind when considering rebranding is a new, flashy logo and updated website. These things will contribute to rebranding success but are not the first order of business. O’Keeffe believes content is king. Telling your story is the very first step. No amount of flashy graphics or slick website design can take the place of creating a message that strikes the heart of what your customer want from you.

Does your messaging resonate with customers and prospects, and is it consistent across all channels? This is the absolute first thing to address. While a graphic designer may tell you to redesign your logo as the first step in rebranding, an award-winning logo will do nothing to tell your story to the right audience in the right channel at the right time with the right message. You can jazz up your logo and website later.

To ensure your messaging resonates, think of the story you want to share with the world about your company, products and services. What is your value proposition? Is yours a story of value, of timeliness, of quality, of price? Then unify your message across all platforms.

Know and target your audience. I once spoke with a prospect who sold fork lift equipment. I asked how he prospected for customers and he replied he advertised in a major league baseball stadium. I’m pretty sure of the 40,000 people in attendance at the game, maybe one or two might be interested in buying a forklift. Maybe not. Do not cast a wide net if your customers represent a small segment.

At the end of the day, a well-crafted message delivered with consistency and frequency to a targeted prospect offering a needed value will lead the way to branding success.

Want help with your brand identity? Connect with us!

Four Commitments to Create a Great Content Loyalty Strategy

A great Content Strategy is not a sprint to the finish line; it’s a marathon. You cannot turn it on and off as you redirect resources to other company initiatives.

A great Content Strategy is not a sprint to the finish line; it’s a marathon. You cannot turn it on and off as you redirect resources to other company initiatives. It is a continuous dialogue between your brand and your customers. Think of it as a relationship that must be continuously nurtured.  To be successful, you must commit your organization.

Commitment #1

Every content strategy professes to build brand loyalty with existing customers. So why are the majority of companies engaged in content marketing focused on top-of-funnel goals like demand gen and brand awareness? According to Accenture Research, 66% of consumers spend more on brands to which they feel loyal. Commit to the goals of your content strategy and stay focused. Do not become distracted by requests from sales for leads. A lead gen strategy is not a loyalty strategy.

Commitment #2

Truly commit to the loyalty strategy. Reports show that marketers committed to using a long-term content strategy were 63% more likely to reach their goal of building customer loyalty. Your best new business opportunity is with your existing loyal customers and the word-of-mouth (WOM) they with generate on social platforms.

Commitment #3

Get comfortable using metrics to improve your work. Access to campaign metrics through platforms like Supermetrics, Google Data studio, and others will provide the data. However, it’s up to you to slice and dice the data for your application. To improve the effectiveness of your content strategy with metrics, be clear on your big picture goals. Make sure you are measuring things that indicated you are reaching your goals. Track performance against these KPIs every month. Create a spreadsheet that tracks marketing goals and KPIs. Regularly review your plan for gathering performance information and who will be responsible for collecting and reporting this data.

Commitment #4

Focus on loyalty. Educate your customers to nurture loyalty. Fill the informational needs of your audience with entertaining content.  Use social media stories, video and blogs to create your brand voice. By focusing on your customer, their wants and needs, your brand will become clear with your customers.

Mac and Me

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in square holes. The ones who see things differently…While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones, who do.” 
–Apple commercial 1987 

The Art Department at the small agency I had founded in 1984 was known as the Zoo. Cork covered walls were adorned with Farah Faucet posters, marker comps, logo development drafts, and job traffic control spreadsheets. We were required to wear a coat and tie just in case a client came to visit, but that did little to camouflage our deviant minds.

We made blowguns with rolled paper tubes and push pins and challenged every norm. “Change” was our watchword, the status quo our target. Clients visiting the agency ALWAYS came to the Zoo to stand in the doorway to gaze in awe at a bunch of irreverent, creative misfits in action. Our T-squares and drafting tables are, for the most part, now obsolete, and the way we produce our work is much different.

I touched my first computer that same year. My toolbox was filled with triangles, T-squares, rapidographs, rubylith, kneaded erasers, and wax pencils. This box of wires with a glass face sitting on my desk looked like some kind of alien. Its name was ‘Mac’, and at first, our relationship was challenging.

As I sat at a large drawing board with white masking tape and X-Acto knives, building mechanicals and creating marker comps, Mac stared silently at my every move as if in judgment. We couldn’t communicate. I had to learn to speak Mac.

Like an invasion, Macs began to proliferate throughout the company. They got bigger, and faster and smarter and soon covered my trusty drafting table. I could access everything from a single movement of my hand on the strange box. When I made a mistake, my pal Mac allowed me to simply go back, without having to start the project over. Mac and his ilk changed everything.

But through the years one thing didn’t change: the people. The creatives, the technicians, the artists, the account execs, the media buyers, the designers, the thinkers, the writers and the wordsmiths. People who can breathe life into an idea through words or create an image that touches the heart without saying a word.

So, I got to thinking – although everything changed, nothing really has. Our tools may change and evolve, but we are still in the “idea business.” The misfits who provide the creative spark that makes content connect still fit round pegs into square holes every day.

The Fifth Marketing Wave

Will the Art of Creative Marketing Become a Science?

Robert Keith wrote an article “The Marketing Revolution” first published in the Journal of Marketing in 1960. Keith examined the marketing practices of the Pillsbury Corporation between 1869 and 1960, almost a century of evolution. From his research, he identified four different eras of marketing that correspond to the evolution of both technology and the marketplace.

Keith called the years up to the 1930s the production era. The era was characterized by an abundance of raw materials and new technologies and mechanical processes which fueled investment in mass production. Many companies concentrated on mass producing one single item. Marketing efforts generally consisted of informational brochures and catalogs.

From the 1930s to the 1950s, companies began to get more aggressive in their search for a competitive edge. What emerged was the sales era. Sales campaigns were devised to persuade customers on the advantages of a specific product over others. The customer’s wants’ and needs became important. Evolving technology and infrastructure sparked development of distribution networks.

Brand marketing emerged during the marketing era spanning the 1950s to the 1960s which corresponded with the development of broadcast technology. Advertising began its golden age. Companies created marketing departments, and what became the art of modern marketing and advertising methodology. The brand manager emerged as the individual responsible for all marketing activities associated with a brand, and competition increased as marketers concentrated on persuasion to influence consumer purchasing.

The period from 1960 until recent years has involved an increased focus on the customer, such as identifying needs, wants and buying behaviors. Market research emerged in the form of consumer surveys and focus groups. In the 1980s, what is known as “relationship marketing” became a common marketing practice, still, very much an art form as reliable measurement tools didn’t exist.

Today, a fifth era has emerged: the era of customer data and analytical insights. Technology and data capture has enabled the science of consumer insights. A 1960’s CPG brand manager made decisions to change the packaging design based on a focus group of a dozen individuals and his or her instincts. Today, marketers have access to the collective data from millions of consumers in real time distilled into actionable insights. Marketing, once exclusively an art, has made a giant step towards evolving into a science.

Will there still be a place for creative marketing in the future or will science, and data alone drive marketing? My answer is yes. The science can tell us definitively what works and what doesn’t. That’s a potent tool. But content and messaging will always play a vital role in the marketing equation so long as people, not machines, make buying decisions.


The Communications Olympics

The Problem of Distracted Audiences

It all started in 2010, a new competition in the Winter Olympics. That was the year Google, Microsoft and Yahoo each unveiled separate renditions on search, blogs and mobile for fans to follow the 2010 games in Vancouver.  Flash forward to the 2018 Winter games in Pyeong Chang and the competition is still fierce among these three competitors. But another competition is being fought behind the scenes. It is the marketers battle to place their content and gain the attention of the viewing audience. And the winners are…we’re not sure.

The web and social media has brought Olympics fans closer to the action at home, the office or on the go. People have access to news, event schedules, stats and pictures, and can watch competitions live on any of their devices. How the world has changed in a few short years. Not only are athletes’ event performance viewed with a microscope by tens of millions, so too is their performance when not actually competing.

Audiences seem to be as interested in who placed in which event as they are in a female skater’s wardrobe malfunction, or a French athlete being sent home for lack of team spirit, to an analyst’s inappropriate comments on domestic violence. A new element has been introduced marketers need to factor into the equation: audience distraction.

As marketers we are vigilant in seeking out new platforms from which we can communicate to specific audiences. Social media has transformed our ability to communicate meaningful content to segmented audiences most likely to respond. Instead of simply seeking a wider audience, we are able to drill down with analytic tools to reach specific audiences. What are the ramifications when a chosen channel with a specific audience becomes fractured by a distraction. Will the tracking, monitoring and analytics software measurements we use to evaluate campaigns hold up?

Distracted audiences aren’t a new phenomenon, but for the first time, marketers are gaining the ability to measure the impact on their campaign. This is going to be interesting.

How about those North Korean robo-cheerleaders?

Want help connecting with your distracted audience? Let’s work together!