This technology marketing masterclass – hosted by Man Bites Dog’s Head of Technology Division Fiona Buckley and featuring Patrick Cassleman, Senior Director, Sustainability Center of Excellence at Intel and Man Bites Dog CEO Claire Mason – explores marketing at the convergence of sustainability and digitalisation.  

For business leaders, technology plays a paradoxical role in the sustainability agenda. This is because fundamental business functions such as global computing, data centres and data transmission networks are inarguably significant contributors to carbon emissions, water use and e-waste. There is a scale that needs to be balanced: demand for computing performance vs reducing environmental impact.

In this webinar, the panel discussed The Sustainable CTO, a global thought leadership platform developed by Man Bites Dog and Intel, which shines the spotlight on tech leaders as pivotal sustainability influencers in the corporate C-suite. Patrick, Claire and Fiona explain how Intel has used this platform to engage with C-suite buyers and supercharge sales. 

The panel also dived into The Sustainable CTO, a thought leadership initiative created for Intel in partnership with Man Bites Dog. The study gathered insights from 2,020 global business leaders from 22 markets to share their triangulated perspectives as CTOs, CEOs and chief sustainability officers (CSOs) in the world’s largest companies. The Sustainable CTO initiative introduced a new model of tech leader with the potential to become the greatest driver of sustainability in the corporate C-suite. Man Bites Dog positioned Intel as a thought leader in sustainability by moving the agenda beyond ‘tech zero’ to ‘tech positive’.


Tech Zero: Reducing the carbon footprint of an organisation’s IT function. 

Tech Positive: Using technology as a lever for the whole organisation to reach its net-zero goals and to have a positive overall impact, driving business growth and accelerating innovation.


The webinar also broke down five practical steps to successful thought leadership.

  1. Future Thinking: to be a thought leader you must lead, not follow.
  2. A Strong Core Idea: a radical concept that represents against-the-grain thinking.
  3. Substantial Data: credible evidence to support your story.
  4. Alignment to your strategy and services: starting with the end in mind.
  5. Winning attention and engagement: unleashing your experts and engaging others in the story.

Fiona, Patrick and Claire discussed the power of implementing all five of these elements to see both internal and external results across your organisation. Specifically, the panel discussed the opportunity that this content can bring to sales teams. By giving them original data on a topic of key interest to their client's business success, such as sustainability, they can have informed and educated conversations with those clients, forming stronger relationships.

To learn more about the power of thought leadership and what it could mean for your organisation, reach out to us at [email protected]. For the latest updates on Man Bites Dog events and content, register for future event invitations here, or follow us on LinkedIn.

In our webinar, ‘Return on Inclusion’, Man Bites Dog’s Divisional Director, Duncan Sparke, and Associate Director, Lauren Street were joined by financial services industry experts Farmida Bi CBE, from Norton Rose Fulbright, and Dominic Traynor, from BNY Mellon. The session covered how the financial services industry has the ability to not only advocate for major societal change, but to power it. For that reason, no-one else can quite match the potential of financial services marketers to catalyse progress.

To catch up on the webinar, watch the recording below.

The panel discussed the importance of creating impactful social purpose campaigns that cut through the noise. The problem with social impact campaigns, however, is that having a widespread real-world impact doesn’t happen overnight. Our webinar looked at the success factors in building a truly impactful social purpose marketing campaign, and unpacked one particular campaign that echoed around the world: BNY Mellon Investment Management’s The Pathway to Inclusive Investment – flipping the narrative from one of individual risk to one of global opportunity.

The webinar centered around the financial services sector and the pivotal role it can play in fostering positive social change. It touched on the importance of addressing the gender investment gap, and the intersectional complexities that play a role – from culture, and ethnicity, to socio-economic opportunity. The combination of these challenges and financial services’ ability to drive social evolution is a vital interplay.

The topics discussed during the webinar helped to illustrate the importance of the industry engaging with governments, and educational institutions, in an effort to tackle the societal pressures that sit at the cause of the investment gap dilemma.

An example of a purpose-led thought leadership campaign that successfully followed these principles is BNY Mellon Investment Management’s The Pathway to Inclusive Investment developed in partnership with Man Bites Dog. This social impact campaign is the largest study into global female financial inclusion. It found that the investment industry excludes 72% of women, and costs the global economy more than $3.22 trillion. It found that solving the inclusion crisis would open up an additional 1.86 trillion to fund climate and social investment aims.

During the Q&A session, several critical topics were addressed such as: 

Organisations need to be committed to the long-term result with social impact campaigns. Having leadership buy-in and setting the parameters of success as real-world change beyond the immediate top-line advantage is crucial. Cutting through the noise, and delivering a campaign that is truly impactful, with data-driven insights is key in turning the dial on change. 

To kickstart your brand's sustainable go-to-market strategy, reach out to us at [email protected] and explore our sustainability marketing solutions. For the latest updates on Man Bites Dog events and content, register for future event invitations here, or follow us on LinkedIn.

An AI search bar in which someone is asking: How an AI help tackle the climate crisis?

At Man Bites Dog we spend a lot of time thinking about megatrends. Over the last year we have calculated the financial returns on climate adaptation in emerging markets, delved into the impact of the global energy crisis and explored the role of technology leaders within organisations in pushing through sustainability initiatives. Often our thinking on these megatrends involves trying to find a new counterintuitive angle, or exploring how trends currently impacting businesses might interact with each other. 

But in 2024, one megatrend – and two letters – is dominating our thinking more than any other: AI. Depending on your perspective it’s either coming for your job or it will save humanity. The reality is probably somewhere in between, but what is certain is that it will change (almost) everything. Recent trials of Microsoft’s GPT-powered Copilot found 70% of knowledge workers said they were more productive when using the AI tool. Repetitive tasks in the accounting and legal professions are set to be automated out of existence, whilst the application of AI to some of the complex industrial processes or the creation of “digital twins” will create huge real-world efficiencies. And anyone who has attended a marketing event or scrolled through a social media timeline recently (i.e. everyone) is met with fevered speculation about how generative AI will disrupt the marketing industry.  

AI as a carbon cruncher 

However, it is perhaps using artificial intelligence to tackle the biggest and most complex challenge of them all – the climate crisis – where it will have the greatest impact. To achieve a global net zero, the next 25 or so years will require a transformation of business the likes of which the world has never seen. The energy sector needs to decarbonise first and fast (see Supercharging Net Zero, our research project with Arcadis) whilst hard-to-abate sectors such as steel manufacturing will need to revolutionise their processes to produce products without fossil fuels. The full might of international capital markets will need to be thrown at millions of decarbonisation projects across the globe and, in a world of rising sea levels and increased extreme weather events, we will need new and innovative technologies to help communities adapt. 

The good news is – it’s already happening. AI is already being used to intelligently manage power grids to ensure supply better meets demand and it is running as efficiently as possible. The technology is being integrated into accounting software to help businesses track their scope 3 carbon emissions. And the potential for ‘industrial AI’ to optimise processes – and therefore reduce emissions – in the advanced manufacturing, built environment and infrastructure sectors is huge. However, even to the giddiest techno-optimist, it's clear that the huge amount of data centre capacity needed to underpin ubiquitous AI will lead to an equally huge carbon footprint. According to some estimates, the tech sector as a whole could account for a whopping 14% of global emissions by 2040.

Thought leadership opportunities 

But what does this mean for B2B marketing teams and their thought leadership? As with all disruptions for forward-thinking B2B organisations, the AI revolution creates opportunities for growth as their clients seek guidance on what happens next. By undertaking research-backed thought leadership around the impact of AI on the sustainable transition within their sector, marketing teams can cater to that demand – helping their customers navigate the disruption and seize the opportunity of AI. 

Does this sound relevant to the conversations you're having with your clients? Get in touch with the Man Bites Dog team to find out how we could help. 

Contact us to create your stand-out campaign.

Get in touch

In a crowded market, the pressure is on professional services marketers to cut through the noise. Over the last decade, marketing has become too focused on quantity instead of quality, with 1.5 quintillion bytes of content produced every day, and 2.5 billion blog posts published each year. As generative AI becomes more mainstream, this content load is set to exponentially increase.   

Storytelling – the world’s oldest communication technology – is a powerful way for professional services marketers to connect with clients. The question is, what stories are we telling today, and are they resonating? And how can we ensure our stories build our firm’s reputation, generate revenue, and create real-world change?  

The thought leadership equation: a big idea plus substantial data 

Well-told stories are powerful – with some even lasting a lifetime. To capture our hearts, they need to be interesting; they need a big idea. But as well as engaging our emotions we also need to appeal to the intellect – the rational part of the brain responsible for logic, problem-solving, organisation, and decision making. And to do this we need to communicate substantive information or data as part of the story.  

We’re surrounded by a blizzard of information all day, every day – and we don’t remember raw facts. There’s just too much of it. It’s only when you put data behind a big idea, that we engage with the facts, remember them, and act on them. To create effective thought leadership we need data-driven stories that have a big idea at their core to stir our emotions supported by substantive data to engage our intellect.  

This is the Man Bites Dog thought leadership equation:  

Man Bites Dog's thought leadership equation: Ideas plus data equals thought leadership.

There are five steps to harnessing data-driven thought leadership, requiring us to be strategic business partners to our clients and stakeholders:  

  1. Engage future thinking 

To be a thought leader you must lead, not follow. Forward-looking, predictive insight is much more valuable than retrospective review. But how do you develop a credible vision of what’s next? There is a whole toolkit of options to help you see trends beyond they break. This includes using scenario planning to imagine potential futures, economic modelling to understand and anticipate trends, and sophisticated opinion research – often amongst niche audiences – to get to the heart of an issue.  

  1. Identify a strong core idea 

Find a strong core idea that will set you apart and make a mark. This is not about following the crowd; it’s about telling people something new and different – a radical ‘man bites dog’ concept that involves against-the-grain thinking.  

A signature big idea is the “north star” to unify all your content, that is scalable and sustained for years to come to give you cumulative impact. Professional services marketing tends to cluster around the same themes, so it is critical to instead choose an emerging, pre-topical issue your firm can own. This is especially true for crowded spaces such as sustainability or M&A, where you need to work even harder to make sure your big idea is new and different enough to stand out. 

And while you can encompass a huge amount of detail within your campaign, you must be able to distil it into a single strong core idea that can be said in a sentence. A theme isn’t specific and new enough to be an idea – but a theme might help you scope out a starting point.  

  1. Evidence the idea with substantial data  

Once you have a clear idea, it needs to be substantiated with evidence by generating new, proprietary data. A common error is to conduct ‘state of the nation’ surveys to find out what people think on a given broad topic area, hoping to find something interesting and retrofit a narrative. This is a high-risk approach, which is likely to lead to unremarkable results. Instead, start with the end in mind, using your strong core idea to guide focused research. It’s the difference between a vague fishing expedition and following a treasure map to achieve your goal.  

  1. Align your idea to your strategy and services 

Effective thought leadership is based on a strategic idea that is anchored in your strategy to create a clear call-to-action for your services. To ensure that the idea translates into sales, it must be grounded in your business and connected with what your firm is selling. Linking the campaign to a “gateway service” such as an assessment tool or a benchmarking exercise enables business development teams to convert opportunities into revenue. Campaign-linked gateway services are also a great way of tracking marketing-influenced sales because everyone who buys the gateway service has come through your programme.  

  1. Activate your data-driven story through global content 

The fifth and final step is about winning attention and engagement. It involves unleashing your experts and engaging others in your story to build your reputation, relationships, revenue, and real-world impact. It means tailoring your campaign content to suit a multi-channel, multi-device world.   

You will need to adopt an omnichannel approach aligned with the big-picture vision set out in your global campaign strategy to land your content and messages and ensure they have maximum impact.  

Defining what’s next 

While drumbeat content, reactive marketing strategies, and pulse campaigns all have their place, to truly make an impact and develop a differentiated voice for your firm, you need a big idea that can galvanise your whole organisation and provide a “north star” for all your content and marketing efforts. Much of today’s marketing and sales content lacks a story to engage our hearts and lacks data to intrigue our minds.  

Impactful, strategic thought leadership puts the focus squarely back on quality over quantity. Strong thought leadership involves creating and amplifying big ideas; ideas that can define what’s next. It can increase your impact and grow your business, but it can also start movements, shape new markets, enrol followers, and create real-world change.  

The demand for genuine and engaging thought leadership is higher than ever before. Recent Man Bites Dog research found that 76% of business leaders more likely to do business with professional services firms that they see as thought-leading experts in their field.1  

As professional services marketers face greater competition than ever, it is critical to use the thought leadership equation to differentiate your firm from its competitors and cut through the ever-increasing noise. If you'd like to learn more about thought leadership for professional services, contact us at: [email protected].

Contact us to create your stand-out campaign.

Get in touch

Today, we find ourselves at a remarkable inflection point. Events over the past few years are transforming how we think about the future and the new economy. The opportunity for lawyers is to put themselves in their clients’ shoes and help them identify and react to the new set of challenges that lie ahead.

But what is next? Can you clearly see the future you will help your clients to navigate? Does your firm have compelling future thinking to share? Importantly, have you defined a new vision for your firm? Legal marketers need to be the navigators of what’s next.

The business case for future thinking

The challenges facing leaders and the organisations they lead include decarbonisation, hybrid working and digital transformation, to name a few.

Not only are your clients having to handle these issues internally, but they are also under increasing pressure to share their thinking to bring about clarity and direction.

Today every CEO is expected to be a thought leader which means that your clients are now competing with you for share of voice on these crowded topics.

Future vision and orientation are becoming even more important than past performance in securing investment, as business leaders recognise that they need to be seen as innovators in order to build reputation, deepen relationships and ultimately generate revenue. To be seen as trustworthy experts you must be more knowledgeable than your clients and be generous with that knowledge. That’s the value you can bring.

Defining your strategic agenda 

With clients judging your firm’s capability and innovation on the quality of your thought leadership, it is crucial to crystalise your strategic agenda. Carving out time now for the market-making activity that will drive your firm’s business success in three to five years’ time is more important than ever.

So how can we go about advancing that strategic agenda for the years ahead?

The first step is to define the area of focus for your future thinking. Man Bites Dog’s 4D strategic ideation model presents a process to guide this thinking:

  1. Market: Think big - start by taking an expansive look at the external market. What are the key macroeconomic megatrends shaping the future?
  2. Clients: Now put yourself in your clients’ shoes. Where do these issues intersect with the issues they are grappling with?
  3. Competitors: Which themes might help you differentiate? Where are those white spaces where competitors are weak or absent?
  4. You: Where do these themes align with your firm’s strengths and capabilities, or offers it makes sense for you to build? What is your comparative advantage?

Man Bites Dog's 4D ideation model

By combining these dimensions, you can shortlist a few promising opportunity areas or themes for the firm. Next, select a theme that is broad enough to act as a unifying umbrella – a golden thread that connects all (or most) of your services - in an emerging space that will help you deliver future growth. This is where you can win in the future. This is your strategic agenda.

Seeing further forward: the future thinking toolkit

Once you’ve developed a vision of the next economy and defined what your role in it might look like - your strategic agenda - you then need to take this vision to the next level.

The key to carving out a thought leadership position is having a strong core idea, especially as there can be a tendency for thought leadership to cluster around the same issues. To avoid thought followership, you need to have something new and different to say – a radical concept that is against the grain – and be able to distil this into a single core story.

There is power in telling stories with numbers. Backing up your idea with evidence by generating new proprietary data is essential. When it comes to research, it is important to build a new toolkit to be able to see further forward and evidence your insights with a reasonable degree of credibility and accuracy.

The future-ready professional services marketer 

In a world where organisations are increasingly judged on the quality of thinking they share, forward looking, predictive insight is much more valuable than retrospective. To be a thought leader you need to shine a light on what’s next.

The future-ready legal marketer has a critical role to play in developing and communicating your firm’s future thinking, both in terms of articulating your firm’s vision in your thought leadership campaigns and how it informs new marketing-led products and services to help your firm lead in the new economy.

The Role of the Navigator

We are now living in disruptive times. Business leaders in your company, your clients and prospects are all worried about one thing: the future. For their company, their career and even for their children.

While leaders in emerging markets remain optimistic, Western leaders fear a rapidly approaching dystopia. Man Bites Dog’s recent research reveals that the majority of large corporate CEOs believe their own company’s past is brighter than its future. And in this dystopian future the mighty will fall: leaders expect 1 in 6 large competitors to fail by 2023.

We have now passed the tipping point where leaders are more worried about non-traditional competitors than long-standing rivals. And the biggest corporate killer is expected to be their own fickle customers.

One CEO described the new leadership paradigm to me as the difference between driving a car (something else that will soon be obsolete) and riding a motorcross bike. Leaders are now offroad and running their companies faster than ever before, so they must point their strategy further ahead while scanning for competitors in their peripheral vision.

This creates a critical challenge for business leaders because human beings are very poor at anticipating the future with any degree of accuracy. Which means visionaries now have unprecedented influence. Clients are looking for experts who can see beyond these limits. In this uncharted territory, there is a clear opportunity for companies to pivot from past precedent to future orientation: becoming the trusted navigator who, rather than fearing the future, embraces change and sees further.

The old tokens of credibility - best practice, tradition and track record - may now work against you by consigning you to the history books. The ability to adapt again and again is now our best predictor of future success. We are entering an era when credibility must be balanced with agility.

This puts us in the business of predicting the future. And thought leadership holds the key.

Redefining Thought Leadership

Man Bites Dog defines thought leadership as: a strategic idea with the purpose of gaining and conveying competitive advantage by sharing value.

Your strategic idea should strike the right balance between telling your clients something valuable and genuinely new, and promoting a problem you solve, connected to your brand, your product and services, and your area of authority.

Thought leadership is not a tactic: an isolated article, a reaction to breaking news or regulatory change. It’s a strategy: holistic corporate thinking should lead thought and lead your marketing activity.

Thought leadership is also certainly not thought followership. In an era when the speed of the innovation cycle means you can no longer differentiate on your products and services, the only battleground you can win on is your distinctive thinking.

Strategic ideas demonstrate your future orientation and reinforce your authority as a navigator - it’s all prospects have to go on that you are the go-to experts.

So how can you harness the power of strategic ideas to win?

Winning With IDEAS

There are 5 key considerations, for which IDEAS provides a useful acrostic:

Embrace the future

We are living in uncertain times. But you can choose whether to disrupt or be disrupted. You have an opportunity to be the navigator - to see further and share future-oriented ideas that genuinely solve clients’ real challenges.

The future belongs to visionaries and in the ideas economy the biggest thinkers will win. Shouldn’t that be you?

Originally published on British American Business

The future of retail dropped in New York this weekend in the imposing shape of Hudson Yards. Presided over by Thomas Heatherwick’s stunning “Vessel”, the worlds of architecture and marketing collide in this instagram-breaking rebirth of the shopping experience.

The $25 billion development boasts one million square feet of retail, food and culture built for social shared experience in person and online, with every square metre constructed as a photo opportunity.

The Vessel at Hudson Yards in New York

A prime example of marketecture in action, the development harnesses the power of Heatherwick Studio’s escheresque climbable sculpture to take the opening of a new shopping centre to new levels of consumer and media engagement.

Two decades on from the start of my career, launching UK retail destination Bluewater’s “male creche” strategy for “parking” bored partners, the crowds were at capacity this weekend with a balanced gender demographic (I am assured the guys are here voluntarily) and even a few four-legged friends.

Can kill become cure for the future of physical retail? While online shopping may have won the first round against bricks and mortar, the troubled retail sector has come back fighting with this immersive social media playground. Worlds collide in Hudson Yards with the Floor of Discovery hosting purpose-built showcase stores for born-online brands who are finding online customer acquisition increasingly expensive. Could more agile and enlightened lease arrangements be the key to unlock a brighter future for retail real estate and the high street?

Fellow British export Heatherwick’s example of British American collaboration provided an inspiring start to Man Bites Dog’s week of meetings and keynote speeches in New York.

We saw a lot of fun and a lot of social engagement but not a lot of shopping bags. While the jury’s out - we’re in.  

 

Man Bites Dog is an award-winning thought leadership consultancy with global reach. Find out more at www.manbitesdog.com

Welcome to Man Bites Dog’s monthly trade blog. Our international trade thought leadership team helps organisations capture their share of the global trade opportunity. Working with clients in sectors from professional and financial services to technology and logistics, we develop visionary thought leadership, world-leading new data sets and digital client engagement tools to help position clients’ expertise and generate demand for their services. Our regular articles will provide perspectives on a key issue in global trade.

At the time of writing, waves of violence and detentions have flared in Harare after the country’s first post-Mugabe elections, with the Movement for Democratic Change’s (MDC) Nelson Chamisa and the interim ZANU-PF President Emmerson Mnangagwa vying for leadership of the southern African country once famed as ‘The breadbasket of Africa’. Mnangagwa was victorious but only narrowly avoided a run-off with Chamisa, amidst claims of vote rigging from the MDC. It appears that substantial political tensions will remain, but will the election process prove enough for Zimbabwe to continue its journey back to the world of international trade and investment?

Since the end of the Mugabe-era last year, the interim Mnangagwa Government was working to rebuild Zimbabwe’s status in international trade and investment, particularly with regard to the once-famed agricultural sector, welcoming a number of international trade delegations. Before 2000, agricultural exports were responsible for as much as 15% of GDP and and 33% of export earnings; 70% of Zimbabweans’ earnings are dependent on the sector (World Bank). The Government has been proactively supporting the sector through the Command Agriculture and Command Livestock programmes, both largely funded with private sector partners. Command Agriculture, in essence an import substitution programme, has been controversial particularly with regards to timely repayments by beneficiaries.

Whilst individual programmes may prove problematic, it is at least encouraging that the Government, over the latter years of Mugabe-rule and the interim Mnangagwa presidency has proactively sought to support the development of sustainable agricultural industries after the crises of the 2000s. A recovering agriculture sector combined with a more welcoming business environment will be a vital in bringing Zimbabwean exports back to consumers and for attracting the international investment the market needs.

Zimbabwe is not just endowed with an environment that would support a vibrant agricultural sector but it is also rich in natural resources. The Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe has predicted that in 2018 the mining sector will grow by 10% with the sector expected to be worth £30bn by 2030. In March the Government signed a $4.2 billion deal for a new platinum mine and refinery, a substantial boon for the administration.

As would be expected, particularly since the departure of Mugabe, much has been made of Zimbabwe’s potential in the press; throughout Mnangagwa’s interim presidency he declared the country ‘open for business’. However, the country needs to continue reforming to attract greater international investment and improve its situation with its international creditors. Positively, the complex indigenisation law, which proved such a barrier for international companies, was amended earlier this year with only the diamond and platinum sectors now requiring 51% local ownership. Even within these sectors there is some discretionary flexibility permitted. Whilst some sectors are officially reserved for local businesses the amendment also permits exemptions under special circumstances. The racial overtones of the original law have also been removed. This marks a substantial change in the law, which will operate in a vastly different way to the protectionist focus of the original.

Over recent months, it would seem that Zimbabwe has finally grasped the nettle and put economic development and engagement with the international community at the heart of policy making. However, the recent elections appear to be testing Zimbabwe’s nascent democratic structures to their limit. Whatever the coming months bring, the new administration will have to work hard to maintain momentum to ensure that Zimbabwe is genuinely open for business.

Man Bites Dog recently joined the Financial Services Forum, and have taken advantage of our membership by attending a series of fascinating events and seminars focusing on the biggest issues facing the financial marketing community.

A recurring theme that continues to challenge financial services companies is brand differentiation. Because so many firms are trying to differentiate purely on services, experience, people, or the global footprint of the business when there is significant overlap with competitors - to their customers most financial services businesses look and sound the same.

Our own research has shown that 90% of B2B marketers believe their company needs to differentiate from competitors based on their thinking and ideas, as senior business audiences are only willing to trade their time for genuinely new insight. They want original ideas that really grab them, not me-too thinking. So how do you practically do that?

To develop a differentiating marketing strategy, these three key steps will ensure you stand apart from the competition, giving you the competitive edge to attract your prospects and win in your category.

Why do you exist?

This sounds like an existential question, but it’s a problem facing every financial services firm. As companies have become entrenched in their markets and have become protectionist rather than forward looking, they have lost sight of why their business came to be.

Amongst the complexity of processes and systems that developed over time to create a matrix of activity, businesses can lose sight of how they became successful in the first place.

Your first job in finding differentiation is understand why your business exists. This is unique - as every business formed for different reasons, in different markets, by and for different people - and if it’s unique, it’s not something anyone else can copy.

You need to find the fundamental values of your business and what it does truly differently that differentiates it. Don’t kid yourself - be honest - because there’s no fooling your customers.

Ask your customers

At the heart of your business and what makes it successful are your customers. There are individual reasons, both rational and emotional your customers chose you over your competitors, and you can use this insight to power your purpose and marketing strategy to help prospects understand who you are and why you’re a great choice.

The best way of find out what has made you a success is to ask your customers what they really think of you, and for you to get under the skin of who they are really so you can understand how to reach out to customers and prospects more effectively.

You need to know what their problems are, rather than what you want their problems to be. And by talking to the heart of the issues they face you can truly create an idea they can get behind.

Create insight based on segments of your customers so you can identify solutions that are bespoke to each group, and talk to them separately rather than assuming they are one homogenous group.

Focus on the value

Once you’ve understood your reason for being, and cross referenced that with customer segments based on real insight, you’ll be in pole position to understand where your natural fit is in your market.

Too many companies fall into the trap of wanting everyone to be their customer, and target so broadly that it no longer qualifies as targeting. So prioritise your target audiences based on their needs and create campaigns for each of them.

This doesn’t have to be limiting. A good, strategically sound campaign can cross continents, diverse business types, and companies with starkly different objectives, and still communicate real value in seemingly disparate groups.

There are fundamentals which tie all of your customers together, and by tailoring your messaging to different markets you will create true relevance for your target market from a single idea, focussing your marketing in a commercially effective way.

To find out more about how we generate award-winning ideas that sell, contact us today at [email protected].

A UK Government Minister has publicly criticised corporates that are threatening to pull out of Britain over Brexit, branding last week’s comments by Airbus “completely inappropriate.” In an unprecedented move, the public was urged to stop our ears and ignore the “siren voices” of multinational employers making public interventions in politics.

But are these siren voices an inappropriate distraction, or are business leaders sounding a valuable note of warning, a lighthouse steering us clear of the rocks?

The separation of business and politics has long been considered sacrosanct. While companies lobby to influence specific industry and legislative issues, at a macro policy level they generally aspire to be nonpartisan.

Political bias can alienate employees and customers alike, and in extreme cases it can affect the favourability of the regulatory environment and a company’s license to operate. What’s more, in our digital times an outspoken opinion can set an expectation that lasts a lifetime.

Against this context of political neutrality, we’ve seen the rise and rise of corporate values. These principles have become as entrenched as a corporate religion, a code which governs behaviour, culture and the norms by which companies operate.

Values generate followers, conveying competitive advantage in attracting customers and talent, with employees accepting lower salaries or fewer tangible benefits for an employer brand they identify with. But organisations that profit from their values will pay a high price if they fall short of their promises.

It’s no surprise that corporates have remained conspicuously nonpartisan for years, but when political ideologies are becoming increasingly polarised, the question is whether it’s possible (or even desirable) for companies to remain apolitical?

As political agendas move from shades of grey to harsh clashing colours, we are witnessing a shift towards ‘uncorporate communications’ where leaders are willing to speak out as representatives of their company to protect their brand’s core values and influence issues which have a direct impact on their business and their responsibilities to their employees and supply chain.

The gravity of Brexit may have been the first political issue to coax British business leaders off the fence in decades – and may set a new blueprint for corporate values and behaviour.

We’ve seen the rise of the digital resistance in the US as Tech CEOs have united to oppose immigration policy from the ‘travel ban’ to the separation of families at the Mexican border. Multinational companies have moved to defend not just the free movement of labour they need to operate, but the liberal democratic values their employees align with. This is a significant movement with global implications: business sirens are highlighting not only the issues that affect them directly, but taking a stance to make political change in the world.

We are now entering uncharted territory. In this polarised political environment, remaining in the neutral zone is almost impossible for companies that trade on their values as an intrinsic part of their operating model.

Leaders need to decide where their company stands on the most critical political issues, and identify the lines that cannot be crossed. The days of corporate neutrality may be numbered.

The great opportunity that comes from building marketing campaigns in 2018, is that the power of word-of-mouth has reached epic proportions. The title of this blog is evidence of that very phenomenon.

The quote “if you build it, they will come”, is wrong. The actual quote from Field of Dreams is “if you build it, he will come”. But the misquote got used a few times in the early days of the internet and took hold. If you search for the misquote today you get 2.2 million results – the real quote gets just under one twentieth of that number.

Fuelled by Google’s drive to centre SEO around what people actually engage with and share, the way marketers can light a fire under an idea has changed. So it’s time to update the adage that we in marcomms have been celebrating for years; strictly speaking, content is no longer king, engagement is.

Content is dead... long live engagement

When people buy into, spend time with, and then share your content at scale, it’s easier to connect the dots between what is clearly on the page and sought after on-site metrics. But one-to-many content, in the traditional sense, isn’t enough.

To generate real value, marketers need to build something that is not only highly targeted, but highly useful to the target group. It is the real value that creates highly shareable content, rather than old-hat SEO tricks to fool search engines into thinking this content is relevant.

It is the user, in real-time, who is gauging relevance and applicability to each other person in that market, whether they have the exact same challenges and ambitions or not. Fundamentally, those are the reasons people bought into and shared your content in the first place - not because you wrote it - but because it’s engaging.

Sure, there are things you can do to bring your content more in line with the microcosms within your audience, but there’s also the potential to go much further.

Never be content with your content

But what blanket changes should we be making to content to help it thrive on an internet that’s increasingly fussy?

Content as it used to exist is too big, too long, and too boring. Who needs a hundred articles, all written from a self-serving perspective, on ‘what GDPR means for your business’? You only need one article, that is relevant to the industry to you’re in and what your business does.

Some say that attention spans have dramatically slumped in the age of smartphones and microblogging, but it’s only half the story to say it’s purely down to the quantity of information. The other half is that people aren’t interested in consuming information that isn’t relevant to them. There’s a universal glut of information designed to capture traffic in high volume, and it’s literally impossible to read it all. So why would we burden ourselves with things that we don’t value and that don’t help us as individuals?

At a basic level, it means that content should be broken down so it’s easily accessible based on who’s reading it, segmenting your audience for highest relevance. Though breaking content down into trend pages and chapters on “millennials” or “fintech SMEs”, for structure and clarity - you can take it one step further.

If the user can break the content into digestible pieces themselves, and it’s easily navigable, you’ve solved the content problem and the audience problem in one fell swoop. Why? Because no segmented audience ever conforms exactly to the profile you’ve assigned it, but individuals know what it is they’re looking for.

It’s about creating choice. And by allowing a smooth process to allow the choice, and capturing the traffic all in one place, you’ve shown Google what fantastic content looks like, increasing the organic traffic to your site.

Always on, always bespoke

Once we dive beneath the level of audience segmentation and start to understand the needs, wants, and ambitions of individuals, we create content that blurs the line between driving awareness of your company and creating a valuable sales pipeline.

To take an example from our work with a major international bank last year, we wanted to show entrepreneurs in emerging markets that by using a more sophisticated savings approach, they could make their money work much harder for them; building their wealth, reaching their personal goals faster, and maybe even retiring earlier.

Hooking them with headline figures – the amount they were missing out on – got their attention, but rather than facing them with a behemoth research paper for them to get lost in, we invited them to tell us who they were and where, and to see exactly what the situation was for others like them, in their country.

This interactive digital experience outlining the challenges they faced, gave them an understanding of the direct benefit of talking about developing a financial strategy with our client. Awareness through to sales, all in one place, relevant to everyone in the target group.

Connect your products with your audiences using a single message

Many companies have complex products to sell in complex businesses and industries, and have created nuanced marketing plans to traverse and communicate these complexities to their audiences.

But products are designed to meet very specific needs. Though it’s difficult to cut through the noise and show customers why the product is important to them in a differentiated way, it can be done.

By finding a clear central narrative which pulls these complexities together, and coupling it with interactive digital tools, brands can talk one-on-one to large groups of customers in a relevant, engaging, and differentiated way. And with online interactions being constantly monitored by search engines and shared among engaged users - making the connection between product and user engagement - you can pull traffic directly into your sales funnel organically.

To speak to us about the conversations you need to have with your customers, and how they might be enriched, get in touch today.

Good PR isn’t just about having something worthwhile to say, it’s about making sure you reach the people who are most interested in what you’re saying. And with more and more noise to cut through, you need to find new and innovative ways of reaching your audience.

Optimising your website and content for search engines has become a huge opportunity for capturing people interested in what you’re saying. But why is it important, and how does it work?

The PR Google opportunity

Behind the coveted space at the top of every Google search, lays an algorithm that curates websites into a hierarchy through a quality over quantity equation, continuously building a profile of all web sources. The best receive the highest visibility, and consequently, the highest amount of organic traffic.

The Google philosophy is simple: by creating real value for your users, you will be rewarded with web content at the top of the search engine results page (SERP). Due to the link between the user search query and website content, link farming, keyword stuffing and other ‘black hat’ techniques once muddied the internet with spam pages aiming to top the Google charts.

But this is no longer the case. Updates such as Penguin and Panda focused on reducing the value of low quality sites, thereby removing them from SERPs and resigning them to history. These changes also mean that keyword research is no longer enough. As the backbone of all successful marketing, and as Forbes’ ‘PR theme of 2018’, it comes as no surprise that trust is the crucial and binding factor behind the growing alignment of SEO and PR.

And with Google’s focus on user experience as a core indicator of quality content, in the future, marketers and PR professionals need to build their websites with this in mind to make sure they reach the people they are targeting to their full potential.

Power your digital marketing strategy

Building trustworthy content will improve key algorithm signals such as the time someone spends on your website, which increases the likelihood of the next person finding it. And the visibility of web interactions means that the success of a SEO aligned PR strategy is directly measurable through metrics such as the amount of organic traffic a web page gets.

Symbiotically, social media also helps spread engaging and useful content organically. While this is also measurable through the number of likes, comments and shares that it receives, each interaction in turn shows Google how good your content really is, in real-life contexts, increasing its page score.

So building content that people believe in and get behind, can provide competitive advantage in the digital space, and differentiate you from the crowd of businesses all focused on the same thing; maximising organic traffic volumes.

Key SEO tools

But for maximum effect, the old and new approaches should work together. Once you have created unique and engaging content, there are a number of tools you can use to maximise organic search visibility.

Many of these are free and easy to use, and help to gain audience insight to find out what your audience is searching, assist in optimisation through timing and keywords, and help you to gauge the success of a strategy once it is implemented to see how it can be improved in the future.

Google Keyword Planner – part of Google AdWords, keyword planner helps to find keywords related to the subject you’re talking about, and get search volume data to scope the opportunity

Answer the Public – a fantastic tool for generating ideas for content, particularly for getting traffic to news articles and blog posts

Google Trends – timing is key, and this tool helps you see the peaks and troughs in topic trends that will help get most traffic to your post

SEO Moz – a tool that connects your SEO activity with changes in domain and page authority, a core success metric. The downloadable toolbar is free to use

Google Analytics – a free service that tracks and reports on all traffic that lands on your site, crucially where the traffic comes from. You can set up goals to understand revenue and every metric in between

Search Metrics – a tool that helps to determine a domain’s visibility through metrics of uniqueness – good for planning domain names

Stand out from the crowd

At Man Bites Dog we create end-to-end marketing strategies. From creating a great idea that will engage your audience to delivering a marketing plan to maximise the reach of your message.

We specialise not only in having something unique to say to your industry, but also in getting your message heard. Get in touch today to discuss your PR and digital marketing strategy.

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