What happens when cost is more important than marketing value?
May 12, 2013
This post is by Darren Woolley, Founder of TrinityP3. With his background as analytical scientist and creative problem solver, Darren brings unique insights and learnings to the marketing process. He is considered a global thought leader on agency remuneration, search and selection and relationship optimisation.
At the recent WFA Global Marketing Week in Brussels I was interviewed on the impact cost reduction was having on innovation and creativity. Seeing the edited result here got me thinking about the impact I have seen in recent years where cost reduction became more important than the results and value marketing and their agencies were delivering.
From the first day of setting up TrinityP3 we have not accepted payment linked to savings because the easiest thing in the world is to reduce advertising and marketing costs at the expense of effectiveness and value.
“Cutting costs without improvements in quality is futile.”
—W. Edwards Deming (1900–1996)
The three examples that immediately come to mind are:
- Media cost over media value
- Reduction of agency fees at the expense of expertise
- A focus on price leading to increased cost
These are actual examples and to protect the guilty, the naive and the stupid I have changed or eliminated the details that would identify who they are, but I am sure they will see themselves in these examples.
Media cost over media value
A global consumer goods company CMO was talking to me about the performance of his media agency and wondering what I thought of them because he had doubts on their level of innovation and proactivity. The agency had a good reputation with their many other clients and within the marketplace so I was surprised he was having such a negative experience.
I asked about how the agency were remunerated and he told me that on the global agreement they had the typical small margin deal but that the bonus was quite substantial based on delivering very aggressive CPM (Cost Per Thousand) goals.
Typical of many global, and sometimes local, media agency deals is a focus on providing a bonus to the media agency based on achieving lower media costs and one of the easiest measures of media cost is CPM. The problem is that a media agency can achieve low CPMs by buying low quality inventory and avoiding the high quality, premium media environments that attract a premium price and therefore drive up the CPM.
I asked the CMO to describe the symptoms he saw as reflecting the agencies poor performance and he said that for their significant media investment he almost never saw his spots on air yet he always saw his competitors spots. And that the agency rarely came forward with innovative sponsorship or media properties.
We talked about when he watched television and this was when he got home from the office around 7.30 pm. This is zone 1 and premium time with premium viewers and rates. There is no way the agency could schedule in this time without compromising their bonus. But clearly the competitors did not have the same limitations.
Likewise, many of the exciting and interesting sponsorship deals are for premium properties and these invariably come with premium audience delivery costs. Even though they can provide excellent value in positioning, awareness and brand association, the measure of cost of audience delivery, CPM, does not take any of this into account.
Here is a prime example of where measuring cost and providing an incentive to lower cost has eliminated the opportunities to embrace the media value, leaving the brand in the bargain basement.
Reduction of agency fees at the expense of expertise
A global entertainment company contacted me to discuss undertaking a media agency pitch. It was felt that the agency had been under-performing for the past 12 months or more with little or no obvious strategic input and a high turnover of staff on the account.
Both of these are obvious symptoms of potential remuneration issues and so I suggested to the marketers we undertake a remuneration benchmarking prior to the pitch to get a baseline of the level of remuneration. Sure enough for the level of spend the mix and complexity of the media requirements the agency were paid about 35% less than benchmark.
Interestingly, on bringing these findings to the attention of the marketing team, we were informed that 18 months earlier the regional procurement team had benchmarked and reduced the agency fee by 30%. The agency accepted the reduction in the fee as the alternative was to have to defend the business in a pitch.
Instead, the agency took the 30% reduction in fee and effectively removed the senior account management and media strategy and planning from the account replacing them with the resources they could afford. They did not touch the buying / trading function as this is the area that was regularly checked by media buying audit.
On the basis that the average media agency fee is between 2.5% and 4% of media spend, they had effectively saved 30% off the agency fee and effectively put the 96% – 97.5% of the media spend at risk of underperformance. The problem is that they did not know this for 18 months as the only thing they were measuring was media buying cost and not the media value delivered.
A focus on price leading to increased cost
A financial services company had appointed an agency and commissioned us to assist with the negotiation and benchmarking of the proposed agency fees. A year later the contract was being reviewed by the company procurement team and I received a call from the procurement lead.
He was reviewing the production rate card and was questioning the rates we had negotiated. In his experience in the print industry he was aware of studio rates that were less than half of the rate we had negotiated. In the conversation I pointed out that the advertising agencies were typically more expensive than the production houses associated with print companies and brokers. The reason is that the agency is developing the creative work and that typically they utilise a better calibre of studio artist / designer.
He disagreed and went off to negotiate with the agency, convinced that our benchmarks were out-of-step with this objective of reducing agency costs. He came back several weeks later gloating about his results, especially on studio costs. The rate had been negotiated from $180 per hour to just $90 per hour. He had calculated that on the previous year’s artwork spend he had effectively saved the company more than a million dollars.
It was an impressive price reduction and I asked him to share the whole rate card. On this there was a ‘new’ charge being file archiving and file retrieval. Anyone aware of the Apple Mac OS and Adobe In-Design application know that this is effectively Command O and Command S. Yet here was a charge of $90 each.
Most of the jobs going through the agency studio for this client, and something we knew but he did not, are simple changes and corrections. These are typically billed in 30 minute increments. Because of the many stakeholders and the volume of work these changes outnumber the longer, base artwork costs by more than 5 to 1. So what is the cost implication?
Under the old system the price was $180 per hour. Five in one jobs are billed at 30 minutes which is a cost of $90 each. Under the new prices in the rate card those same jobs are now $45 for the studio time plus $90 for the file retrieval plus $90 for the file archiving being a total cost of $225. Reducing the hourly rate by 50% effectively raised the cost 150% in more than 80% of studio projects.
Even worse, it appears that the number of times jobs jobs were sent back through the studio for revision increased because the lower rate created the perception that the cost consequences were also reduced. He did not save the company more than a million dollars, he effectively cost the company money because the focus was on the price and not the cost or the value to the company.
Are you focused on Cost? Price? Or Value?
Here are three examples that come to mind when people are focused on price or cost and not value. Marketing is a value proposition. But so much of the conversation is based on cost and price. The results of this are often counter to the true objective to be more efficient and cost effective.
Do you have any examples of where cost reduction has been applied at the expense of value in marketing? You do not have to provide details, just share the basic premise as I have done. Leave a comment and share.
A simple guide to choosing the right content management system
May 9, 2013
This post is by Paul Kent – a Senior Consultant at TrinityP3. Paul has over fifteen years experience in the media and advertising industry in both Europe and Australia. His career has spanned across both the agency and media side of the business giving him valuable insights into changing communications landscape.
So we have all accepted that digital is an integral part of our commercial landscape.
If you have not accepted this view then it may be time to put down the device in your hand and pick up that stone tablet next to you…
If you want to stick around perhaps a description would help – and what better source than the ultimate content curator – Wikipedia:
‘A web content management system (web CMS) is a bundled or stand-alone application to create, manage, store and deploy content on Web pages. Web content includes text and embedded graphics, photos, video, audio, and code that displays content or interacts with the user. A web CMS may catalog and index content, select or assemble content at runtime, or deliver content to specific visitors in a requested way, such as other languages. Web CMSs usually allow client control over HTML-based content, files, documents, and web hosting plans based on the system depth and the niche it serves.’
So that is well and good but what is the best CMS system to use?
Depending on who your developer is will entirely dictate the answer to this question. It comes down to personal preference entirely. Get twenty developers in a room, sit-back, pour yourself a large one and let them debate for hours. Highly entertaining – if you like that sort of thing.
If you don’t have time for light entertainment here is a quick summary of 5 of the most popular Open Source systems.
Ratings (1-5 with 5 being excellent) are based on overall capabilities for a beginning to intermediate user.
With over 60 million users this is the Mac-Daddy thanks to its ease of use and quick installation. The core software (now at version 3.5.1) is built by volunteers – hence their positioning ‘Wordpress is both free and priceless at the same time’.
Known as a bloggers best friend – as per its original purpose – the software has now evolved to include thousands of plugins and themes that can transform any site from a simple blog to a full e-commerce platform thanks to good page management features, media uploading and numerous features to assist in content management.
Like many Open Source systems, WordPress has often been of concern for the more security-minded who worry about the open access nature. This is largely unfounded.
WordPress is not just used by the stay-at-home blogger but has become a core component of the systems used by some of the giants of information and technology including Sony, Samsung, CNN and eBay. These guys are not known for their cavalier attitude to security.
Having said that, these companies and many others still primarily use it as a blogging platform – cue hysteria from some developers. Yes it is open source which means new add ons are being created all the time but this constant evolution means that some plugins may be become outdated and cease working.
Don’t get me wrong – I love WordPress like a cute Labrador puppy that just wants to please…but… it does have its limitations when required to perform against other systems more specifically designed for enterprise driven needs.
Best Use: Blogging
A powerful CMS that also doubles up as a strong framework for the development of web apps. It is largely designed for non-programmers who want a static site – About, Contact etc. thanks to easy set-up and ability to inline edit very simply handling links, images and other ‘blocks’ brilliantly.
This is designed with the user in mind and it shows. With the minimum of tuition even the most hapless of users will be able to change content with the use of simple front-end editing.
Tutorials are readily available with some of the video offerings particularly useful compared to other systems.
In terms of add ons Concrete5 can be seen as pricey and has been accused of lacking the depth of choice of other CMS’s however this is changing at pace.
Although built from the ground up as a commercial CMS it has one of the fastest growing develop community’s within Open Source CMS (although still smaller than many other platforms) as well as an actual support facility if forums cannot assist making it a good choice for beginners to intermediate levels.
Best Use: Community
Overall Rating: 4
Visit the Joomla site and you will see them claim of millions of users – no surprise given it is so customizable. It is a true heavyweight amongst CMS platforms and has a million module creators (yes you read that right). The problem with this abundance is finding one that suits your needs.
Joomla is perfect for developers looking for an extendable CMS with a lot of functionality. The basic product can provide a huge array of options thanks largely to the third-party extensions available.
In particular this is a platform worth considering if you are looking at incorporating memberships areas, forums, articles from external authors etc. giving you plenty of opportunity to set limits on time, length, author etc.
The basic stuff – colours, logos, themes etc. – is pretty easy to master however even the most seasoned developer needs some guidance once you start moving on from here.
However be warned that many of the smartest modules are not cheap if you do venture off of the range.
Should you get into trouble, as ever, the Joomla community is there to help – and what a friendly bunch they are…there is also a comprehensive admin section that is easy to use and there are a kaleidoscope of templates and styles, menu management tools and feeds so for this reason the likes of Citibank, MTV, Linux and Harvard use the system.
Best Use: Small/Medium Business.
A close cousin in many ways to Joomla!, in terms of purpose. It is another titan of the CMS world with enough modules to power almost any kind of site. These modules are (relatively) easy to customize and the majority of menus, sidebars and configurations can be changed without needing to change the theme.
Of course, reading between the lines, this means the basic system whilst easy to install is relatively bare bones – hence the need for so many modules in order to help build that kick-ass site that you have dreamed of.
Like those community-built sites listed above, Drupal has an active community to assist with problems and has even moved to hosting face-to-face Drupal events and forums.
This is probably necessary as the system can be intimidating given the volume of options and configurations on offer – there are over 6,000 modules – just don’t even mention the ‘creative/confusing’ names for some functions… This is a system that justifies a developers salary.
If you can find them, there are so many modules to choose from that the system can be overwhelming, complicated and slow. Beware – as can be the case with other community-built systems – unfinished modules lurk in the depths.
Having said that, a major bonus of the community-built system is the sense of collaboration that ensures there is always someone on the various forums willing to assist with any issues making it a popular choice with some big boys like Universal Music and MIT.
Hey, anything that is good enough for the Mr Obama and the White House is good enough for me.
Best Use: Big Business
An Open Source PHP application framework that is feature rich and allows almost full customization using templates in regular HTML/CSS/JS this system has been gaining increasing popularity from a passionate and vocal community.
Its interface looks impressive and provides developers with a vast array of options for customization that can make other systems look like tin-pot dictators.
On top of this ModX minimizes the need for SEO expertise being built with this critical factor in mind without the need for additional plugins.
This is a system that is really built for those with strong development skills who enjoy complete control over the CM included an integrated blog and varied features. Many users enjoy the ease of navigation with the left hand side menu that pops open with pages as well as incorporation of the newest technologies that help ‘future-proof’ the site.
However, some developers have complained that the system can be difficult to use for the uninitiated – which given the relative lack of documentation – can be a number of people. Make the wrong move and you can step on a landmine that explodes everything. This is something to be wary of when handing control to a client that lacks ModX experience.
Unfortunately the forums can often be of little help with ModX contributors having an unfortunate reputation for arrogance when dealing with new users.
As one reviewer so eloquently wrote – ‘if the caches fail it’s like having the Sword of Damocles over your head; you are provided nothing but ‘The White Screen of Death’’…
Best Use: Tech Sites
There are dozens of CMS systems to choose from depending on your requirements each has their own merits. For the vast majority of users WordPress is hard to go past – hence its popularity. Whilst it was designed as a blogging platform, it has evolved to become so much more. Whilst it can frustrate with its lack of flexibility on occasion, it is a system that all but holds your hand through each step – think of it as a ‘Benign Dictator’.
At the other end of the spectrum stands ModX that is a wonderful CMS system for those familiar with its capabilities but given its unforgiving nature it is not to be used for ‘P-Platers’.
Concrete5 is a great platform for developers and agencies working across a wide variety of clients as it is easy to use and once all of the addons are incorporated can really let you play to your hearts content.
Joomla! Is a thinker – it has great depth. Many users only skim the surface of its capabilities and can get frustrated with weeks of work and a sense of frustration however those who have broken through the pain barrier describe a developers nirvana.
Drupal really starts to move towards the bigger end of town and lends itself nicely to construction of bigger more complex sites thanks to impressive scalability without some of the barriers of ModX.
I encourage you to research as much as possible before making your final decision. Even the most cursory investigation will find a cross-section of views about every system so maybe the best advice is to try a few on for size and see which fits best.
Let me know which CMS you favour and why by leaving a comment.
The ROI of TrinityP3′s 300% website visitor growth explained
May 7, 2013
This post is by Mike Morgan, Founder and Director of High Profile Enterprises. Mike is also Content Director for TrinityP3 and has been collaborating with TrinityP3 on a Content Marketing, SEO and Social Media strategy since early 2011.
If you have been following TrinityP3 for any length of time you may have noticed a gradual (or maybe not so gradual) rise in the brand’s presence online over the last couple of years.
In this post I am going to share a few of our strategy secrets and I am also going to demonstrate how the big increase in digital visibility has a significant and measurable impact on company revenue.
Many thanks to Darren Woolley, Founder and MD of TrinityP3 for allowing us to publish these results and to outline how we have achieved this.
This has been a collaborative project from the outset and has required a lot of belief and a lot of hard work from the team at TrinityP3, particularly from Darren, and a phenomenal commitment to a rigorous publishing and social media schedule.
Oh. yes… and a bit of courage. Being prepared to stand up and have your opinions published on trade sites that allow spiteful anonymous comments is not for the faint-hearted. This industry is rife with tall poppy syndrome and I think we all recognise this.
There were some tough times early on, particularly in the Winter of 2011 when traction was still quite slow. But, the commitment remained and as we gained momentum the rewards began to show.
How can you measure digital ROI?
There is a lot of debate about whether ROI is measurable with anything to do with digital marketing.
How do you measure it?
Should we be talking instead about ROE? (return on engagement)
Or should we be talking about ROI? (return on influence)
Or what about ROR? (return on relationship)
And many other permutations can be searched and found indexed on thousands of search engines. There is no shortage of new acronyms for digital return, that’s for sure.
In the end there is really only one metric any business should be concerned with:
Growth in revenue.
Simple as that.
Impressions, clicks, rankings, pageviews, subscribers, CTRs, actions, unique visitors, bounce rates, traffic sources, paid vs organic, social signals, influence measurement, conversions and more are crucial in measuring progress and in identifying areas to concentrate efforts or reduce emphasis…
But, these mean nothing if you are not seeing increased revenue and increased profits.
Without a measurable increase in revenue what is the point of all this effort?
The “How long is a piece of string” element is in how long it will take for you to see growth in revenue.
And this will depend on a very large range of factors and influences – your commitment, your expertise, your resourcing, your offline influence, your reputation, your investment, your networks, your agility, your team, your time…
So, let’s look at how we are able to measure real ROI for TrinityP3′s project.
I will start with the cold hard stats and this will give you a good picture of the relationship between growth in website traffic and growth in revenue. Then I will take you through a blow by blow account of some the strategies we have used to get here.
As an introduction, the project has been based on a combination of SEO, Content Marketing, Social Media and technical compliance. And there have been a number of shifts in strategy over the two year period covered.
Some seriously huge changes to search and the internet have taken place in 2012 and if your online strategy was not agile enough to cope with the shifting ground you would have suffered the consequences.
This has been driven by Google’s aggressive stance on search engine result manipulation and webspam. If you had SEO skeletons in your closet then they sure as hell came tumbling out after the infamous Panda and Penguin updates.
To clarify before we start, the growth figure I reference in the title relates to a 300% increase in “unique visitors” to the TrinityP3 website. This takes out repeat visitors which can be influenced by staff, consultants or agencies accessing the site for their individual projects.
It is difficult to manipulate either unique visitors or Google organic visitors so these can be seen as true reflections of the website rewards of our efforts.
TrinityP3 website results
First let’s look at how various sources and Google Analytics metrics performed when 2011 figures are compared with 2012:
Unique visitors grew by 303%, Google organic traffic grew by 284% and Twitter and LinkedIn saw phenomenal growth.
Visitor growth looks like this in Google Analytics’ Audience Overview data:
You need to know where your visitors are coming from so what were the most important sources of traffic to the website?
Anyone who doubts the market dominance of Google should do this little exercise using their own analytics. I have intentionally left out the long tail (lower traffic) of traffic sources – traffic from every Google geo-location in the world, multiple social bookmarking and smaller social media sites (StumbleUpon features quite strongly), trade sites – thanks Mumbrella, AdNews, Campaign Brief, and also visitors from colleagues’ sites or strategic partners’ sites among others.
Direct traffic indicates brand visibility and often comes from PR and offline strategies but will also include a healthy chunk of what is known as “Dark Social” which is traffic from social media sites, particularly Twitter, which Google is either unable or unwilling to share data on.
Now for the most important figures.
How has this growth in website traffic from a number of sources affected revenue?
This graph shows clearly what has happened in 2012:
As you would probably expect unique visitors is growing at a much faster rate than revenue but the overall trends are very clear. (I’m sure you’d love 303% growth in revenue but let’s get real).
The actual revenue growth is 38% during what many are calling tough times in the industry.
How did TrinityP3 achieve 300% growth in unique visitors?
As I mentioned earlier we developed a strategy in early 2011 which was going to have three key targets. They were Search Engine Optimisation, Content Marketing and Social Business.
The symbiosis between these three marketing strategies became more intense as the project evolved and predicted the major changes Google made to its algorithm in 2012.
Technical compliance became compulsory, correct optimisation became a key factor, content finally became “King” and social signals balanced distrust around commonly used SEO link building strategies.
At the outset a commitment was made to be 100% Google Webmaster Guidelines compliant and to only use tools where they were approved by the various platforms we were using. By adjusting as we progressed to remain within guidelines at all times and to follow search thought leaders closely to pre-empt as many major changes as possible we have stayed ahead of the wave throughout the project.
If a month showed small month by month growth this was often followed by a record breaking month.
Analytics reports are certainly a pleasure to produce when the news is consistently good.
SEO or Search Engine Optimisation
SEO must be the foundation for any web based project. If your hub is not technically compliant, easy to crawl and index, does not have clear navigation, is not optimised in a way that clearly identifies the value of each page, then you really will have to work very hard to get a relatively small return on your efforts.
Early on in the process we discussed the limitations of the website CMS TrinityP3 was using and after investigation we agreed to move the site to WordPress as content was going to be the main focus of the website strategy.
WordPress is a highly effective blog platform and the SEO enhancements offered from the vast pool of plugins meant we could optimise the site and increase presence easily on a post by post basis.
WordPress enabled us to get the content indexed and ranked surprisingly quickly and it is common for a new TrinityP3 blog post to hit the top few positions on Google within 3-4 hours.
The website optimisation program followed a step by step process.
- Business analysis to gain an understanding of TrinityP3′s clients – Who are they? What phrases/ language/ jargon are they likely to use? Is there a difference between “usual” and “ideal” clients? What are TrinityP3′s USPs?
- Keyword research – we dug down using several keyword tools to look at both Australian and international traffic in key markets and from a comprehensive list we narrowed down to the very best keywords for each of the 60 plus pages on the site.
- Website optimisation – we optimised metadata for each page. Title tags, meta descriptions and meta keywords (for internal search) were created for each page. Titles were page content relevant and meta descriptions were calls-to-action with keyword focus.
- Addition of plugins to the blog to enable each post published to have the maximum impact.
- Optimisation of blog post images with useful file names, titles, alt text and descriptions (search engines are still unable to recognise the content in images so far – apart from a test on cats – so these optimisation points are valuable)
Technical compliance was addressed at the launch of the new website. These are the issues tracked with Google Webmaster Tools:
- crawl errors – how many pages go to 404 errors?
- pages indexed – how close to total page numbers is this figure?
- server connectivity – is the hosting package adequate and is the site online consistently?
- robots.txt – no issues with Google accessing robots.txt? (this tells Google which pages you do not want them accessing and if they can’t crawl this, Googlebot will not crawl a website)
- links – no sign of any malicious attacks by spam sites? Anchor text looks natural?
- HTML suggestions – this identifies accidental duplicate content to rectify
- Content keywords – look for any aberrations in content keywords caused by repeated off-topic file names or site-wide off-topic phrases
We committed to only using “white hat” link building strategies and this has paid off over the two year period. Google’s two Penguin Updates in 2012 wreaked havoc upon the automated, low quality techniques that many SEO companies were guilty of.
As consultants we are approached to rescue non-compliant sites more and more… And this is a time consuming and expensive process.
Our link building strategy is reliant primarily on the production of high quality content and increased visibility in social media and trade press. No mass submissions, no content spinning, no low quality practices geared solely for links, no paid links.
This has kept TrinityP3 in the good books and has brought big rewards in site trust and authority.
There are insights in this post which detailed the mistakes marketers and agencies are making with their SEO strategies. It covers what you need to be focused on in order to have a highly functional website presence.
Content Marketing Strategy
Although the primary focus of the content strategy was the blog, TrinityP3 already had the foundations for further content formats set up on Slideshare and YouTube among other platforms.
Let’s look at these first.
The TrinityP3 YouTube channel has grown over the past two years and now has more than 24,000 video views. Investment in high quality productions demonstrating TrinityP3′s offerings and professional filming of speaking events have supplemented the many testimonials from agencies and clients.
Although traffic to the website is still low in percentile terms YouTube offers another format for potential clients to connect with the brand.
TrinityP3′s Slideshare has been interesting. It sends almost no traffic to the website as you are unable to hyperlink from presentations. However, as an online branding platform Slideshare is extremely powerful and contributes greatly to Direct traffic as people copy and paste the website URL (more Dark Social visitors).
TrinityP3 presentations have hit the front page of Slideshare as “currently hot” on a regular basis and Top 10 ways marketers waste money has been viewed just under 6,000 times.
The TrinityP3 Blog has gone from strength to strength and any post is guaranteed to get healthy social shares and an impressive number of views.
Initially, Darren Woolley supplied all of the content and at three posts per week this was a huge undertaking for the MD of a company. (Darren has currently written 463 posts on the TrinityP3 blog!)
In early/mid 2012 we developed a multi-author strategy and worked with TrinityP3 consultants and influential industry experts to build a varied informational experience for blog readers with relevant opinion pieces from a range of voices.
This increased the reach of the posts, added to social shareability and broadened the reader base substantially.
The rewards came in increased views for posts and monthly views for the top individual posts moved from being in the hundreds to over the thousand mark.
Social shares began to make it into the hundreds for popular posts and one post has been shared more than 300 times on Twitter alone.
Aside from the multi-author strategy and a demanding publishing schedule how else did we ensure high visibility for the blog?
These two posts give you an outline of what we were doing in our content strategy (the opposite of the mistakes identified within):
There are also a number of technical wins that you can capitalise on with a highly optimised blog:
- title tags, meta descriptions, tags, categories to make crawling and indexing easy
- optimised images
- shortened, friendly URLs
- a good social sharing plugin
- recommended further reading (to reduce bounce rate)
- heading tags in H1, H2, H3
- a robust comment spam filtering system or three (and yes, we still get manually submitted spam from multiple IP addresses but 65,000 comments have been blocked)
Blog posts have the power to rank extremely well for specific keywords. I’ll use a very popular recent post as an example.
3 ways to make sure that social media expert is really an expert is the most viewed post on the TrinityP3 blog ever. It is ranking toward the top of page one in most search engines around the world for keyword variations on “social media expert” and these variations have significant search numbers. So it continues to drive a large number of monthly visitors to the site months after it was first published.
Look at the social share numbers for this post – very healthy.
There are also a number of posts from 2012 and even 2011 that are bringing consistently high numbers of visitors to the site based on their keyword targeting.
If you are embarking on a blog based content strategy do not ignore the power that correct optimisation and good keyword research provides.
Remember, the prize is in the long-tail (multiple longer variations of your target phrases that demonstrate real intent by searchers).
There is however a double-edged sword effect of the growing market presence of the TrinityP3 blog.
On one side this means that large sites are approaching us and inviting us to contribute content. We are having to be fairly selective and are politely turning down a number of invitations.
We are also approached by a large number of people who would like to write for the blog and we have to decline the majority of these to keep the content completely relevant and valuable.
The negative side of this increased presence means that we are also the target of a huge number of spammy guest post offers, multiple barely literate emails offering “top spot on Google”, and a substantial amount of manually submitted SEO comment spam.
Unfortunately, that is the price you pay for higher visibility.
In SEO terms, posts on the blog are attracting (earning) a large number of natural links from high authority websites and curation platforms.
This adds to the snowballing effect of the content strategy and adds to overall authority in search.
And if you search a number of industry related terms on Google you will find that a large number will feature a TrinityP3 result toward the top. This is substantial brand visibility.
Once we hit the publish button that is not the end of the story.
Each post is initially shared through multiple social media sites, is shared on the major social bookmarking sites, is syndicated through a number of RSS news sites, is added to pinging services and is now manually translated and published on TrinityP3′s new Chinese site.
Then it is added to the social media content schedule to ensure it has continued exposure.
We have developed a formula for each of the sites depending on etiquette, speed of content sharing and user experience and this layers the content stream depending on popularity, age of content and topicality.
Social media strategy
The key emphasis was initially on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook on top of the already discussed Slideshare and YouTube.
LinkedIn is a key driver of discussion around content shared and with an increased presence, Darren Woolley’s personal connections have grown to more than 3,600.
As is shown in the data earlier LinkedIn is driving a considerable number of visitors to the site. TrinityP3 also has a company page here and an Evalu8ing company page here. (please take a minute to follow them)
LinkedIn has developed over the last couple of years from a place where people hang their Resumés to an interactive business social media leader. Once people began to see the potential for content sharing and debate the true potential for the demonstration of thought leadership on LinkedIn became apparent.
LinkedIn Groups are one of the most effective ways to connect and share expertise and this is a strategy that is encouraged with all TrinityP3 consultants.
LinkedIn also bought Slideshare recently so you can guarantee that both these sites will continue to rise in influence
Twitter has been the next most successful social media platform for TrinityP3. Starting out with a following of around 200 at the beginning of 2011, TrinityP3 now has around 9,000 followers.
And yes, it is not purely about the numbers. TrinityP3 content gets retweeted/mentioned multiple times each day.
Twitter sends a substantial number of visitors to the site. The strategy is led by the sharing of TrinityP3 blog posts mixed with interesting links from trade sites, digital and inbound marketing blogs, social media thought leaders, advertising industry news and much more.
Conversations on Twitter are always interesting as the 140 character limit means messages are to the point.
Twitter has also been valuable at conferences as a really great way to connect with others attending events around the globe.
This has contributed to connecting with an international network of consultants and thought leaders and raises brand awareness for TrinityP3 in other markets.
Facebook – now Facebook has tripped up a couple of times since the IPO and most would agree it has become a less attractive option for B2B.
In its mad rush to provide return for its shareholders the powers-that-be seem to have forgotten why Facebook became so successful in the first place.
The new model of reducing business reach then offering to sell it back in the form of promoted posts/sponsored stories/pay-per-click advertising suffers from a great paradox.
If they are really successful with this monetisation, day-to-day users’ newsfeeds will become nothing but brand marketing messages. Kind of like a TV channel with all ads and no programming.
How long before consumers begin to “unlike” brands in their droves?
Facebook was sending a large number of visitors in the first half of 2012 but this has been reducing every since. If Facebook does not change its strategy we will probably focus efforts on other platforms.
Google+ has become important because of the obvious connection with the monster of search and particularly because of Authorship. TrinityP3 search results have been showing the very useful profile pic and numbers in circles for some time.
All of the predictions in SEO point to this becoming even more important as this year progresses.
Author Rank is hotly debated and if/when this becomes a reality the influence demonstrated by your Google+ page will have a direct influence on where posts you write appear in search results – more author authority = higher positions.
Other contributing factors
I have concentrated on the digital side of this project but of course TrinityP3 has been very active in a number of other areas. Georgia Suttie has been looking after design, marketing communications, the monthly newsletter, PR and wears a number of other hats which all contribute to both revenue growth and growth in traffic.
Jason Discount has looked after the technical side of things, from site development to plugins and everything to do with code including a couple of rescue missions.
The major Australian Trade sites have played their part by republishing popular posts or press releases.
Darren has been circling the globe presenting at conferences, judging and contributing to panels, meeting strategic partners and influencers and generally being a content producing powerhouse.
TrinityP3 consultants and our selected guest contributors have made the blog a leader in marketing management thought leadership.
It is a truly collaborative project and the results show the value of a high intensity SEO, social and content based project.
We are all looking forward to 2013′s results.
The ultimate guide to APAC marketing management consultants
May 5, 2013
This post is by Darren Woolley, Founder of TrinityP3. With his background as analytical scientist and creative problem solver, Darren brings unique insights and learnings to the marketing process. He is considered a global thought leader on agency remuneration, search and selection and relationship optimisation.
As the leading strategic marketing management consultancy in APAC, we are regularly approached by marketers and procurement wanting to discuss potential projects they are interested in engaging us to help. These projects range across the full gambit of marketing communications from media to PR and SEO to sale promotion and regularly include:
- Agency roster alignment and management
- Agency remuneration benchmarking and modelling
- Marketing budget setting and management
- Marketing department alignment and structures
- Media buying benchmarking
- Agency search and selection and Pitch management
- Television, digital and print assessments and management
- Agency relationship management
- Marketing process optimisation
- Agency contract reviews and negotiations
Occasionally the organisation will have a procurement policy that means that they cannot appoint us to assist them without a competitive tender and so I often find myself being asked to supply details about our competitors so that they are able to invite us to tender against one of more of them.
In the interest of complete transparency, we are therefore offering a list of our competitors in the category of marketing procurement and marketing management in Asia-Pacific and Oceania. It does not purport to be a complete list, although it is reasonably comprehensive. So I am more than happy to add the details of any suitable organisation that has been overlooked. Please just let me know their company name and URL as a comment below.
Accenture Interactive - What they do (from their web site) - Using proprietary assets, pools of benchmarks based on more than $14 billion a year of media spend and more than 170 dedicated media professionals, we help our clients increase their media value. Outperform the competition and achieve high performance in media management.
Agency Register – What they do (from their web site) – We provide ‘best practice’ thinking, highly transparent, accountable processes, and adhere to the highest ethical standards so that review/evaluation outcomes are: decisive, beyond reproach, align with the needs of the business as–a–whole. To ensure all outcomes are merit based and free of any potential conflict–of–interest each evaluator of the agencies under consideration is required to confidentially submit a Declaration of Interest.
APR – What they do (from their website) - We optimize your productions and the systems that surround them. APR helps International brands identify cost efficiencies and implement the latest processes & best practices to create the greatest possible value across the entire spectrum of their advertising production spend.
Aprais - What they do (from their web site) - Aprais enhances business relationships. With a global network of experts working with proprietary, state-of-the-art evaluation software, Aprais offers a consultative, results driven process of in depth evaluation, global benchmarking, and actionable steps aimed at maximising relationship productivity. Relationship management is all we do – so there is no possible conflict of interests.
Bird Bonette Stauderman (BBS) - What they do (from their web site) - Founded in 1985, BBS has five offices worldwide and more than 45 consultants on five continents. BBS’ advertising production consultants are former TV, Interactive, and Print production and procurement executives, all recognized authorities in their field. Our goal is to increase and ensure the best advertising production value for our clients’ budgets.
Challenger Consulting - What they do (from their web site) - Our business philosophy is to put the customer first and provide high quality strategic plans and blueprints for effective implementation. We work with our clients to achieve real results, regardless of the challenge.
The Clinic - What they do (from their web site) - The Clinic helps advertisers get the best from their agencies by advising on agency selection, negotiating remuneration and servicing structures, and optimising the relationship to achieve exceptional performance. Part advertising agency pitch consultant, part financial adviser and part relationship counsellor.
Faulkner Media Management (An Ebiqity Company) - What they do (from their web site) - Faulkner is a truly independent media consultancy, set up to answer the question “How can I get better value and greater effectiveness from my media budget?” For more than two decades we have been helping our clients drive continual improvement from their media. We work collaboratively with our clients and their agencies to demystify the whole campaign development process. We don’t just audit. We help drive improvement – genuine, quantifiable and sustainable… from Campaign briefing, strategy, planning and buying to post-campaign learning and agency relationships.
Enth Degree - What they do (from their web site) - At Enth Degree we believe that it’s easy to drive down costs, but it is more sustainable to identify appropriate cost savings whilst simultaneously improving the service delivery of a marketer’s communications agency partners. We value manage all disciplines in the communications process including creative, media, digital, PR and promotion. Our clients can choose services from both the ‘Qual’ and ‘Quant’ sphere to best suit their individual needs and maximise value from their communication suppliers.
Kenesis Media - What they do (from their web site) - Kinesis provides independent strategic consultancy services for marketers, media and communication companies who require expert guidance, new thinking, improved performance and sales results and understanding the fast changing, complex and dynamic communications world.
Maximised – What they do (from their web site) - Working globally and locally with marketing departments; advertising agencies (creative; media; BTL; Digital); stakeholders (sales; finance; executive; regional teams etc) and procurement to help maximise performance between internal teams and external suppliers/partners. Our focus is on improving processes; systems and attitudes to create environments that allow relationships to flourish and be maximised!
Murphy Cobb & Associates (MCA) - What they do (from their web site) - MCA are a multi-channel production consultancy. We find ways to put great creative ideas into action, whatever the platform, ensuring you optimise your marketing investment.
Navigare - What they do (from their web site) – Navigare is a Sydney-based consultancy that provides confidential and bespoke relationship management advice to CEO’s, senior marketers and their advertising (digital, PR, promotional, print management) and media agency partners. Founded in 1996 Navigare has worked at a senior executive or Board level discreetly, behind the scenes, to solve the client / agency relationship and performance problems of many of Australia’s largest consumer marketing businesses . The Practice is also deployed by many forward-thinking advertising agency CEO’s with a genuine commitment to best practice client service.
The Observatory - What they do (from their web site) - The Observatory International offers the broadest toolkit for marketing procurement and relationship management. Today more than ever, marketers need to drive greater efficiencies and show tangible results. The Observatory International offers support at every stage of planning, procurement, resource allocation, agency selection and relationship management. You’ll work with senior consultants who understand the challenges and the concerns of all stakeholders – marketing, finance, procurement and communications agencies.
Portland Group (An Infosys Company) – What they do (from their web site) - We offer a range of services to support clients in their drive to improve efficiency and thereby financial performance (profit improvement and return on assets/capital). Our consulting services can be summarised into four key focus areas: Procurement Efficiency, Supply Chain Efficiency, Asset Efficiency and Organisation Efficiency
R3 - What they do (from their web site) - R3 was established in 2002 in response to an increasing need from marketers to enhance their relationships with their agencies. Our core service offerings include proprietary tools and processes in all aspects of improving marketing efficiency and effectiveness, as well as in the areas of Agency Relationships, Remuneration and Reviews. They combine thirty years of market testing outside of Asia with enhancements and improvements for this region. In addition, we also conduct independent media analysis and other bespoke research projects around sports, stars and agencies.
Spatial Access – What they do (from their web site) - We work with advertisers in pursuit of continual improvement in efficiency and effectiveness of media and marketing investments. Spatial Access (SA) was launched on the 13th of October 2003 and has evolved into a measurement and evaluation specialist of media & marketing investments. Today, we provide a wide range of audit, advisory and analytical services. Our team of over 30 talented individuals services more than 120 clients across 7 cities in India and 6 countries across the globe!
This is a work in progress – To the best of my knowledge this is a reasonably comprehensive list of companies in this niche category in the Asia Pacific and Oceania region. If you know of any more, please leave their name and URL here as a comment so we can check them out and add to the list where appropriate.
Advertising climate change – are we all in denial?
May 2, 2013
Jon Bradshaw is the director of brand traction, a marketing consultancy for the modern age. He has over 20 years of experience in marketing and brand building. None of which is of any use any more. There are 24 metaphors in this article. Jon recognises he has a problem.
How to re-engage with your audience in the new marketing landscape
I’ve got a dirty secret. It’s one I share with many marketers. I’m an analogy addict. Try
saying that fast, five times in a row.
I can’t resist the lure of a good related story to dramatize my point. I find it impossible to just say what I want to say. I need to find a parable, a metaphor, a simile or even just a piece of urban mythology to dramatize my point. I guess that makes me a drama king. See even when trying to talk honestly about my addiction I use a bloody archetype.
No surprise then, that I can’t rid myself of this affliction when it comes to writing down
what’s on my mind about marketing. Marketing after all is littered with metaphors and
analogies. The worst thing, however, is that I genuinely believe marketing is at a moment
in time when it’s all about to change.
We are at an inflection point. A crossroads, would be the more obvious of popular symbols to pick to represent where I feel the profession and industry are at. The problem is that history is littered with analogies for the hero, facing impending doom. There’s a million metaphors to choose from. I feel like a kid in a toyshop. Yup there I go again, even when talking about how to pick analogies, I use an analogy. I tell you it’s a disease.
One oft used story is that of the boiled frog. Its urban myth that the frog gently heated in
a pan of water will not leap out. But it serves to make the point. In a somewhat cruel and
unusual way. As marketers I do believe we are being gently cooked, as the consumer
landscape heats slowly up and we stay resolutely still.
Canute is another powerful tale that represents where I think we are. A true one to boot.
I’d use the traditional spelling of his name but it wreaks havoc with my spell check. I do
genuinely see many of my colleagues and friends standing resolutely on the shores of
advertising as the seas of change roll steadily in.
So how to pick one? How best to exemplify my point. How do I light the blue touch
paper, set the platform alight and put a rocket under the ass of Aussie marketing?
I’ve ended up with Climate Change. It’s a really good metaphor for what I want to say.
Not that I believe the challenges facing marketing are the same scale or impact as our
environmental crisis. They’re much bigger than Al Gore’s little temperature problem for
God’s sake. But I do think the marketing environment faces some of the same challenges.
• The data is indisputable. There’s a seismic shift underway.
• A large number of people, especially the manufacturers of marketing fossil fuels,
are in total denial about what’s happening.
• There are a heap of snake oil salesmen selling the marketing equivalent of windfarms
and hybrid cars.
• Nobody has a clue about what to do instead.
So I’m going to try to talk about some of that. A bit like Al Gore, I’m probably going to
ask as many questions as I answer, but I’m hoping to leave you no longer in denial and
somewhat hopeful that you don’t have to be underwater in 5 years time. Here’s how I’m
going to do that.
1. I’m going to set the platform alight. I’m going to re-present the data and hope
that you draw the same conclusions from it that I have. That the crucial question
to answer is no longer what to say in our marketing, but how do we get anybody
2. I’m going to talk about how advertising and marketing has evolved as new media
have emerged and try and explain WHY some things have worked and others
haven’t. Why does the audience respond to some things, not others?
3. I’m going to hang it out there and suggest how it might have to evolve further to
really deal with the challenges and access the opportunities the new environment
has to offer.
Five years ago I used to describe myself as a marketing expert. I knew how to do
marketing. I’d been well trained at Mars, Diageo and Virgin and I knew my stuff. It may
just be the descent into senility and the onset of my second childhood, but nowadays I
don’t feel I can say that. Nobody I know, knows how to do marketing anymore. I’ve gone
from marketing guru to marketing novice. So of course I’ve started my own consultancy!
The best I can say in a pitch or an interview nowadays, however, is that I am an expert in
re-learning how to do marketing. I’m not living in denial. I know the world changed and I
need to play catch up and play it fast. I’m going to talk about why I feel that way. As
always with these things I make no pretence of being right. I gave up the illusion that I
might be right, about the same time I gave up on the idea that I could dance.
But I hope to make you think. Maybe you can start where I have got to and make some sense of it all. First though, I think it’s worth reminding ourselves that not EVERYTHING has changed.
In and amongst all this turmoil, the job has not changed. Marketing’s role is to change the way customers and consumers behave, usually in order to make more money for the organisation. If we can focus on doing this for the long term, not just the short, we are doing our job really well. Whilst that may seem a trite truism it’s always worth restating, as the real world gets in the way all too often and we end up focused elsewhere. On things like awareness and likes and awards and a whole heap of other things that might be good measures, but aren’t good reasons.
As we break that truism down there are some other constants in all this change. The tasks we need to perform haven’t changed. We need to acquire new consumers, get the current consumers to buy more, keep those consumers and persuade them to pay a higher price. I also believe the fundamentals of the way to change long term behaviour also hasn’t shifted. We need to create a true, differentiating and motivating brand positioning, wrap it in a powerful brand identity and then find ways of communicating it to the people who we want to affect in a comprehensible, impactful way.
Our purpose, our goals and our message haven’t shifted. But the medium has. It’s shifted
radically and fundamentally and it’s going to keep on shifting for quite some time yet.
Most call it ‘digital’ to try and contain it in a box, but I think its much, much more complex
than that. The medium is not defined by the transmission technology. For me its about
the changing way our audience consumes media, not how the media arrives into their
lives. It’s my opinion that we are still mostly trying to fit square peg advertising into
round media holes. I realise that’s yet another analogy, but I think it makes the point quite
The way we connect to people, the way we communicate our message, the way
we engage with an audience, has to change fundamentally, because the audience is
changing its media consumption habits. If we keep trying to blast out a message to an
audience that isn’t listening and doesn’t care, we won’t achieve the same results. At that
point, marketing will no longer make the organisation more money. Then the analogy is
simple. You and me and the rest of the marketing profession are then royally,
fundamentally and irrevocably screwed.
So let’s talk about media and just for a moment let’s leave the world of metaphor behind
and talk about some facts.
The media landscape has changed, but worse than that it’s still changing. This is where I see a whole heap of climate change deniers clinging on to the past in the hope that we are just having a slightly warm media summer. The issue is the same as the environmental one. We are not yet at crisis. We have not yet sunk under the ocean. But I think the data, like Al Gore’s famous long-term temperature chart, shows us which way we are heading.
Let’s talk TV. It’s still the best way to deliver audience we know of. I think that’s why it’s
so easy to warm ourselves by the cosy fire that’s burning under the mass broadcast
medium. It’s still operating pretty well. Television is more memorable than any other form
of advertising medium (Deloitte 2010). Even in 2012, broadcast TV still reached 87% of
all Australians (Nielsen, 2012), that’s a pretty seductive number. But when you look a little
closer, all is not well.
Listen more closely to Mr. Nielsen for a second. One third of all those viewers, are
watching time-shifted TV. And we know that 86% of time-shifters skip through the ads.
Don’t believe the snake oil salesman who tells you that people still retain key information
from fast-forwarded ads. It’s just not true. Perhaps even more surprisingly online TV
watching already has 43% penetration. That’s already half the reach of broadcast.
Whilst the media climate change deniers will tell you that TV is still effective as a broadcast
medium, they are only telling half the story. There’s an on demand narrowcast tsunami
right behind the TV beach. Once the audience is on demand, we can be sure the one thing they are most unlikely to download and watch is the advertising.
The other great claim of the sceptics is that nobody consumes media in any depth
‘online’. That watching a two minute YouTube clip isn’t the same as watching primetime.
But it’s just not true. If we look at consumption data we can see that online viewers watch
as many hours of content online as broadcast viewers. What you watch online isn’t that
different it seems, but where you are watching it and whether there’s any advertising in it
is totally different.
The change is also about to get faster. In Australia, we are managing all of this online, time shifted, ad skipping TV on an internet infrastructure so outmoded that it struggles to handle content rich email. Once the NBN arrives, get ready for some real change.
So what about putting all those lovely ads onto our YouTube channel, owned media
space and buying a raft of banners and Facebook ads? A bit like TV, some people will
watch them. It’s not a total waste of time. In fact it’s probably necessary to do it. It’s just
not sufficient. It’s necessary to have toilets in your office. It’s just not sufficient to make
your business succeed.
As the head of advertising for Tooheys, Hahn and XXXX in Australia I needed to sell over
1.5 billion drinks per year. Doing that by relying on the 150k Facebook friends of those
brands was never going to be sufficient. You do the maths.
I’m no futurist. Nor am I any kind of tech expert, or early adopter, but it seems to me that
if I can watch exactly what I want, when I want and not get interrupted by the ads, I will. I
have Apple TV and Foxtel IQ at home. I don’t watch ads. And I LOVE ads. I make ads. I’m
an ad advocate. I truly believe that within a very short time frame the nature of scheduling and channels as we know them will change beyond recognition and in so doing our ability to interrupt the audience with a juicy ad will be at best hyper-diluted, at worst over.
So if the old way of beating the audience over the head with the media stick is almost
over, but the digital messiah might, today at least, just be a very naughty boy, what do
we do instead?
In my opinion we need to start by changing the question. Historically we have asked ourselves, “what shall we say and do?” and “where shall we say and do it”. The ad agency and the media agency. These are still important questions. They are necessary. But not sufficient. For me the key question to ask now is “why would anyone want to listen and engage?”
The issue as I see it is we can no longer rely on our ability to interrupt the audience with
our messages in ANY medium. Digital or analogue. And audience is EVERYTHING.
Remember we are in the behaviour change business. We need an audience whose
behaviour we can affect. To really understand what’s going on then, we need to reexamine
WHY people might CHOOSE to engage with marketing in the first place, and
work out how to replicate that every time we take a new campaign or idea to market.
We seem, as an industry, to be worried about the wrong things. We obsess over the
WHAT of advertising. Is it creative enough? Pretty enough? Dramatic enough? Award
winning enough? We debate HOW to get the message out. Spreadsheet after
spreadsheet of media planning detail.
Again these things are necessary. But not sufficient.
We need to turn our attention to WHY. WHY will an audience choose to pay attention to what we want to say? If we cannot demand they pay attention, we have to know WHY they might do so voluntarily. In order to make work they choose to engage with.
I’m interested to hear your thoughts (and analogies). Please leave a comment.