By Simon Mackenzie, Senior Planner
Welcome one and all to a new, appallingly named regular feature of the STEAK blog. Each Friday, I will round up a selection of the more interesting posts I’ve come across in the previous week or so (that hopefully relate at least tenuously to the business of digital marketing), grind them up, and reconstitute them into a blog.
‘Curation’, I think, the cool kids are calling it…
(You’ll notice I’ve cunningly written my own brief here so the posts don’t have to have been published in the last week. I am the law here in the corned beef sandwich, so the only criterion is that this week is when I’ve stumbled across them. I make the rules…)
So without further ado…
At STEAK we do a lot of work around gaining a greater understanding of the customer journey, something that, as a Planner, occupies my mind to a fairly obsessive degree. It’s complicated out there, and getting out of a channeled form of thinking in order to see the bigger picture can be devilishly challenging. It’s also essential, as everybody in the industry from agency to client-side finally faces up to the limitations of the single channel activity and monitoring paradigm we’ve been working in for donkey’s now.
How do we do it? It takes models and frameworks we can use to break it all up into bits and put it back together again in a way that gives us insights and sparks ideas. It’s about understanding the problem in the context of the whole, rather than a single channel and its technology. You need metaphors and tools to do it, as otherwise it’s just too big and maddening to understand in your little human brain.
A consumer’s experience of a brand in digital is essentially distributed around multiple touch-points, in different contexts, on different devices, and I’ve often wondered if Digital Planning was really about taking the ‘idea’ element of traditional Planning and applying it to an understanding of a practical, action-oriented digital journey. “Where does someone go next?” is as important as what they do when they get there.
I came to Planning through design and user experience and am naturally drawn to Service Design and Design Thinking as a way to tackle these complex problems. This post from Peter Merholz caught my eye at the start of the week – for a while I’ve been trying to find a way of talking about a kind of “macro-user-experience’ to describe this process. Maybe I shouldn’t bother.
I always think of that journey you’re constructing as a story, a kind of quest where we’re trying to design a benevolent environment for the characters (the consumers). Its easy to fall into a trap of thinking of all these touch-points and interactions quite mechanistically; assuming people are plodding through the internet as hyper-rational individuals, when really we’re driven along by psychological and social factors more often than not. Can we delight, reassure, surprise consumers as they come into contact with our brand? Can we tell a compelling story in this new distributed medium?
This post on the Wall Blog struck a chord, mainly as I’m amazed how frequently people don’t get this. Matt Walsh from CP&B with four ways to tell a story online (‘marriage of utility and delight’ probably relates best to the above pre-amble).
Bit of a tangent here but related nevertheless, but when you think in terms of design or user experience when tackling clients’ marketing problems, you inevitably start sketching out ways to engineer the behaviours you want, rather than thinking in terms of media placements and influence through messaging. It speaks to Behavioural Economics I suppose, but a post from LinkedIn product leader Adam Nash on building viral user acquisition techniques into a product build can easily be applied to social marketing campaigns. Once you’ve a compelling idea or creative, shouldn’t we be working on an engineering level to bake in the growth we want?
Changing tack slightly, I am going to allow the always brilliant (and occasionally caustic) Rob Campbell express for me something very dear to my heart, which I would break down into shouty mode were I to try to lay it all out here personally. Take it away Rob.
OK to draw us to a close; Big Think Time.
John Willshire of Smithery, ever erudite, has expanded on his “make things people want > make people want things” meme, in three posts on the future of marketing that you absolutely have to read. I particularly like the interplay between ‘substance’ and ‘essence’.
MTPW > MPWT
And for today I’ll leave that to sum up all of the above. I’m off to try and make something people will want. Coffee’s probably…