UK ad viewability hits three year high

According to a report from ad verification company Meetric, the viewability of UK ads has hit its highest level since Q2 2014.

The IAB defines ad viewability as a measurement of whether a display ad has the opportunity to be seen. So, for a desktop standard banner, the minimum threshold for viewability is 50% of the creative asset are being in view for at least one second. For a desktop video, half of the creative asset should be in view for at least for two consecutive seconds.

According to the Meetrics data, the final quarter of 2017 saw the proportion of banner ads meeting this minimum viewability criteria rose from 52% to 56%. This is the first time the proportion has risen for three consecutive quarters.

“Despite previous, albeit small, jumps, we’ve been cautious about being too positive but yet another rise, the joint biggest we’ve seen in consecutive quarters, suggests the battle is being won,” said Philipp von Hilgers, Meetrics’ CEO and co-founder.

“The jump is particularly impressive as in most markets viewability drops in the final quarter due to higher activity – driven by Christmas – which leads to lower quality placements resulting in lower viewability, so the UK has done very well to override this trend.”

Middle of the table

The UK traditionally lags pretty far behind its Western European peers that Meetircs measures. But the newest data puts it ahead of Switzerland (48%), Poland (50%) and Germany (55%).

In terms of the proportion of ads that meet the IAB’s minimum viewability criteria, the best performing country is Austria (67%), followed by Italy (63%), France (62%) and Sweden (61%).

While the IAB minimum criteria says that a 50% of an ad should be viewed for at least one second, the average time a UK ad was in view (but not necessarily viewed) rose by 15% to 24.3 seconds.

– by Colm Hebblethwaite

Monthly mobile data usage to hit 98 GB by 2025

Mobile network giffgaff has released research estimating that average mobile data usage will climb to a mammoth 93 GB per month by 2025.

With 5G due to launch globally in 2020, giffgaff has based its estimations on theoretical speed increases. Research and advisory company Gartner believes 5G phones will begin to reach the market in 2019, when rollouts of 5G networks will start in select countries, such as the US and South Korea.

“We predict that, by 2021, 9 per cent of smartphones sold will support 5G,” said Roberta Cozza, research director at Gartner.

“Overall, 5G will be a significant driver of video and streaming services, as it will bring faster uplinks and support new AI applications.”

Giffgaff have previously estimated that global mobile data usage will grow by 720% by 2021.

4K streaming

The research shows that the largest proportion of the increased data usage will be down to video streaming. Users consumed an average of 0.83 GB worth of their total data on video streaming in 2017, with this expected to rise to 24.7 GB in 2021.

Streaming 4K will be available to most mobile users in 2025, and giffgaff are predicting that this will send the proportion of mobile data used to stream video soaring to 73.87 GB.

Messaging is also likely to see a big increase in data usage. It consumed 0.46 GB’s worth of user’s total data in 2017, but this could grow to as much as 40.63 GB in the first half of the next decade.

“For millions of people, using a mobile phone for music and video streaming is more important than its traditional use for calls and texts,” Chief Commercial Officer at giffgaff, Kim Faura, commented. “With the launch of 5G, we will finally have the bandwidth to deliver speeds even faster than home broadband.

Consumers need to bear this in mind when signing up for a two-year contract; 5G will be here in two years and many users will want a phone that will let them enjoy all 5G has to offer.

– by Colm Hebblethwaite

UK data market largest in Europe in 2018

The UK data market value will hit £1.1 billion ($1.58 billion) in 2018, making it the second largest data market in the world and the biggest in Europe.

The figures come from OnAudience.com, which is part of the Cloud Technologies group who are one of the largest data warehouses in the world, and show a pretty rapid expansion in the UK market. In 2016, the estimated value of the UK data market was £0.7 billion, increasing by 26% to hit £0.9 billion the following year.

The company is predicting further double-digit growth of 22% this year to tip the market value over the one billion mark. The research also shows big growth in the global data market size, growing 34% from $13.5 billion in 2017 to an estimated $18.2 billion in 2018.

“Data has become the currency of 21st century. On the data market, there is a significant upward trend that we can notice at least since 2016. We can say that the need for data is growing simultaneously with the rate of digitalisation,” commented Maciej Sawa, Chief Commercial Officer at OnAudience.com, Cloud Technologies capital group.

“In highly developed countries, such as the UK or the US, there is a big awareness of benefits from the processing and monetizing of data. This is why firms are more likely to buy and sell data – they are aware of profits generated thanks to the information collected.”

Data driven

The global data market is currently highly-concentrated, with 90% of global data spend coming from 28 markets. The marketing industry is the main driver of data market growth, with its seemingly insatiable appetite for consumer data over the last few years.

Information about demographics, user interests and purchase intentions are now considered essential knowledge for marketers to have if they are to properly tailor their ad campaigns. The digitalisation of companies is another key driver of the growth in the data market, with many firms changing their model to be more data driven.

”Organisations of all sizes and representing all industries start to look for revenue in data streams, flowing constantly into their systems. Harnessing information and turning it into more insights, better informed decisions and more customer engagement scenarios are among key topics discussed with our customers nowadays,” said Tomasz Pelczarski, Business Solution Professional at Enterprise Group, Microsoft.

“Artificial intelligence has a key role in analysing and processing information. Since each organisation is unique, they need to find their own way to make the most of AI systems.”

– by Colm Hebblethwaite

Why location data matters – even if you’re not a retailer

When people think of geomarketing — the integration of geographical intelligence into different aspects of marketing, like sales or distribution — they usually think of retailers. B2C companies can certainly target customers much more effectively when they know where those customers are. But location-based data can be used by any company, including those targeting businesses. Geomarketing can be used to book meetings, expand a company’s reach, or even find the best market.

Geomarketing opens up possibilities for B2B companies beyond a mere regional head count. Because of improvements in marketing technology, it’s now possible to track multiple geolocations at once, all while gathering rich data. And the data isn’t just relevant at that point in time, as it is with retail. B2B businesses can use this data to track the entire customer journey. With that level of tracking, businesses can begin to understand how ads drive store traffic and ultimately purchases.

Geomarketing and the silk route

Here’s a little-known secret: geomarketing isn’t new. It’s been around since merchants traveled the Silk Route from China to Europe.

Consider that the Silk Route ran through many different empires, kingdoms, and cities. Each locale was unique, and residents wanted different goods from the Far East. Therefore, Silk Route merchants became the first geomarketers, catering their offerings to each individual location.

With the growth in today’s digital economy, location has become even more critical. As we move away from physical stores and have fewer in-person touchpoints, it’s vital for businesses to understand all nuances in terms of neighborhood, culture, and customer journey. Every buyer is now a digital buyer.

“Geobased marketing provides contextual relevance for both marketers and sellers, but even more important is the use of location data to drive customer experience,” states Cindy Zhou, a B2B marketing professional at Constellation Research. A lack of personal proximity has led to a lack of intimate feedback — that’s why the data from location-based technology is so important.

Think back to when people had to deposit their physical paychecks at the physical bank every week or two. It was easy to build trust and understand the customer’s needs. Now, people rarely visit actual banks, opting to use an app instead. As businesses looking to leverage geomarketing, we have two challenges: accessing that data regularly enough to create the personalized experience customers are looking for and doing it in a way that protects privacy and utilizes the best cybersecurity.

According to a new Carnegie Mellon University study, mobile apps check a customer’s location more than 5,000 times every two weeks. That’s more that 350 times a day! That kind of frequency allows businesses to meet customers right where they are, and advances in blockchain technology will continue to improve privacy and security offerings.

Geomarketing: Beyond retail

Where would Uber and Airbnb be without geolocation? What about social media, which keeps tabs on user location via tags and other data? Can you imagine any of these 21st-century businesses without geodata?

Diana Wertz, a digital marketing expert at L2, puts it simply: “Geomarketing gives businesses more control over sales and customers — they can integrate their app or website with Uber to drive customers to the nearest store (as Cole Haan does), or they can list inventory levels and availability at local stores in real time to drive shoppers to the store. Geomarketing better enables businesses to get customers from wherever they are to stores, events, or other locations that might benefit the business.”

As we continue to improve the technology, it will become imperative for businesses of all kinds to figure out how to optimize it. Think about tourism, which is expected to grow to a $2.6 trillion market in the United States by 2027. That kind of growth is ripe for geomarketing.

If you’re a city like Nashville, your goal is to attract as many tourists as possible. Location data will help you understand foot traffic, ride-sharing data, and other important metrics. Over time, you will begin to understand why travelers choose Nashville over, say, Atlanta or Indianapolis. As a growing city, this kind of geomarketing and location data will help you increase your appeal.

“Another non-retail example I use is sports arenas,” Zhou says. “Geomarketing can look at concentrations of crowds at concession stands, restrooms, etc. and direct customers to other locations with less wait time. Not only is it providing the customer a valuable service, but it can offer concessions in more remote corners of the venue increased foot traffic and an opportunity to push offers.

“Specific to B2B marketing, geomarketing for events to notify attendees of sessions that match their persona or reminders to visit a booth for giveaways is another customer experience and marketing one-two punch.”

That’s just a handful of examples. Consider how knowing where your customers are will help you literally meet them there.

Engagement is the most challenging obstacle for businesses — and also the biggest opportunity for marketers. Utilizing location data will allow businesses to uncover insights about their customers that will more closely mimic real-life data. Like those original geomarketers on the Silk Route, we will be able to build trust and provide exactly what customers want — exactly when they want it.

– by Gurvinder Sahni

Rewarding loyalty is a must for online retailers and brands

Last year’s Black Friday data shows quite clearly just how important eCommerce has become to consumers.  While high street footfall dropped, online purchasing soared, but retailers and brands cannot afford to rest on their laurels.

Recent research that MetaPack carried out amongst over 3500 consumers in the UK, US and Europe illustrates sharply that shopper power determines the strategic decision-making for eCommerce retailers and nowhere more so than in the delivery choices that they offer.

To keep customers loyal, retailers need to stay on their toes.

We asked our cohort of research respondents how likely a positive delivery experience would be to encourage them to shop with that retailer again, and in the UK a massive 84% said very or somewhat likely.

Of course, the flip side to that is when a delivery goes wrong – in fact, over a quarter (29%) of Brits said they would never shop again with an online merchant following a negative delivery experience. When it comes to winning and keeping customers, delivery has the power to make or break the online shopping experience.

Loyalty benefits

Amazon, which knows a thing or two about marketing to its customer base and keeping it happy, has set much store by listening closely to what shoppers want and creating competitive advantage. Prime, its loyalty programme, now offers many benefits to members, but what it is best known for is free, one- or two-day delivery on most items that it sells on its marketplace.

Amazon understood early on that customers will have no compunction in abandoning an online shopping basket if the delivery choices on offer are unsatisfactory, and instead of taking that risk, it promised to provide a high standard of delivery choices and enfolded its shoppers into a long-term, highly beneficial commitment in return.

This works well with consumers who value personalisation and individualism and want their loyalty to be recognised and rewarded. In the UK, 69% of our survey respondents said that they would like the eCommerce websites they use regularly to offer a delivery loyalty program, with their loyalty rewarded by free or quick delivery. Looking at the total number of respondents, 86% said they would even prioritise shopping with that retailer.

So, it’s not surprising that other online merchants are following in Amazon’s footsteps and introducing loyalty schemes that customers are prepared to pay for. Typically, however, today’s savvy shopper is fully aware of how best to make this work for them. Over a quarter (27%) of shoppers from our survey already belong to at least one programme – a further 22% subscribe to two or more schemes. The younger they are, the more likely to be taking advantage, with 68% of millennial shoppers utilising up to seven delivery loyalty programmes

Consumer willingness

If retailers are considering launching a loyalty scheme it’s worth noting that 39% of consumers say they plan to join at least two programmes in the next year.

The privileges that consumers perceive come from membership of a loyalty scheme have distinct benefits to their relationship with the retailer. Most say they shop more with e-tailers that offer delivery loyalty programmes – and almost a third are prepared to pay an annual fee for premium benefits that eliminate the need to factor in the delivery cost of their purchases.

What is also telling is that 42% say that loyalty schemes make them feel special and 55% will prioritise one retailer over another if it offers a delivery loyalty programme – an important fact when considering strategy for the year ahead.

One other area in which online retailers could make changes that would encourage loyalty from customers is by working in consolidation with each other. This might be particularly appropriate for those e-tailers looking to drive down the cost of delivery – or utilise drop shipping fulfilment or crowd-sourcing warehousing strategies to achieve greater proximity to customers and fulfil orders faster – our research shows that shoppers are more than eager to participate in multi-vendor delivery loyalty programmes.

Almost three quarters (71%) indicated that the idea of joining a scheme involving multiple retailers and brands working together to offer premium delivery services held a strong appeal for them.

One final point for consideration. Consolidated delivery, particularly as part of a loyalty scheme, ticks many boxes for consumers, but there are indications that it might also prove popular with those that are interested in buying from retailers with green credentials.

27% of consumers said that they care a great deal about the impact on the environment of their online shopping deliveries whilst 47% say it’s a big concern for them. It might just be that the consolidated delivery trend has the potential for more than one positive outcome.

– by Bruce Fair

Young people place huge amount of trust in verified reviews

There has always been a debate about whether verified reviews or personal recommendations from friends and family are the biggest influence on an individual’s purchasing decisions.

New research from reviews and customer insight company Feefo, has found that, at least when it comes to financial decisions, young people place a huge amount of trust in verified reviews. In a survey where the company asked over 1,000 UK consumers between 16 – 34 about their attitudes to financial sectors, 85% said that they trust verified reviews more than any other source.

That means that young people trust reviews more than their own friends and families when it comes to financial decisions.

“This is compelling evidence that verified reviews have a major influence on younger adults when they take big financial decisions,” said Matt West, CMO at Feefo.

“Banks, lenders and insurers that fail to offer trustworthy, easy-to-use review systems are sacrificing a huge commercial advantage among young adults, who are looking for mortgages and loans as they start out in life.

Increasing loyalty

The financial industry is an interesting case because people rarely actually switch their bank accounts. The results of the showed that both switching and non-switching consumers value verified reviews. 82% of respondents that had never switched said that they would use verified reviews to make their decision.

Of the respondents that had switched, 88% described reviews as “highly persuasive”.

“In the hyper-competitive era of fintechs and challenger banks, financial services organisations need to maximise every means of engaging with customers,” said West.

“Out-of-the-box solutions can provide a bank’s customers with reviews they trust, using advances in artificial intelligence to provide personalised drill-downs and summaries. As well as enticing new customers and dramatically increasing loyalty, review systems tell a financial services provider what it is doing right and where it is going wrong. They are definitely revenue-builders.”

– by Colm Hebblethwaite

5 tips to capture your audience’s attention

More than other types of content, webinars give marketers the power to connect with audiences in a personal and immersive way. A firm favourite amongst B2B marketers, webinars are often touted as a top source for leads and ideal for all aspects of the customer journey.

But how can you keep people engaged? According to new research in GoToWebinar’s 2017 Big Book of Webinar Stats, only 40% of marketing webinars are taking advantage of engagement features. There is a tremendous opportunity for marketers to take webinars beyond a speaker and a few slides and engage audiences on a much deeper level.

Preparation is paramount

We’ve all been told that failing to prepare is preparing to fail – but planning really is the key to a successful webinar! It’s important to get ahead of the technology and check all the equipment before the presenter starts. Make sure the webinar software, headset/phone, internet connection and webcam, if your using one, are all working.

Secondly, ensure that everyone involved and attending has the correct dial-in details, it’s a simple step but can prevent a variety of issues.

To gain the audience’s trust and maintain interest, it’s important that the presenter is comfortable with the presentation. Presenters should run through the format beforehand and aim to shake off any last-minute nerves or uncertainty. Alternatively, if your webinar software has pre-recording capabilities, then this can be an easy way to prepare the bulk of the webinar. Once it’s been recorded, it’s easy to play back sections to the audience and removes the pressure and effort involved in live-hosting.

Interact with the audience

Webinars give marketers the power to have real two-way conversations with their attendees. The best way to engage an audience and get them learning new information is to encourage active participation. Before the webinar, create polls and surveys to keep your audience involved. You can also weave in more informal interactions by asking impromptu questions and having attendees respond with a “hand raise” or a message.

At GoToWebinar, we like to keep webinars loose and fun, and we’ll usually begin with an ice-breaker question, just to get everyone’s attention and set the foundation for future interaction.

All these opportunities for interaction give attendees the ability to take part in the webinar and do more than just watch and listen. Not only will this keep the participation high but also provides marketers with instant feedback on the audience’s engagement and insight into topics.

Another creative way to interact with audiences during webinars is to invite attendees to appear on video side-by-side with the presenter. Perhaps to ask a question or to discuss topics which needed further discussion. This is a very visual way to attract the attention of those who have become disinterested and produce interactive content.

Work on your delivery skills

We’ve all listened back to voice recordings and questioned whether that’s really what we sound like. Every voice is unique so it’s not a case of trying to sound perfect, although there are certain techniques which can enhance public speaking. Keep in mind that it’s best to speak loudly and clearly, and talk naturally. No one will pay attention if you’re mumbling or talking in a flat, monotone voice.

Tone is an important way to convey sentiment, so make sure this is consistent throughout as it will help to gain the audiences trust. Pausing can also be a very effective way of emphasising specific points, as the sudden silence can often surprise listeners and pull them back in.

Make it fun

Incentives can be a great way to encourage audience participation and increase engagement during webinars. Offering a prize which matches the audience’s interests, is a good way to ensure attendees remain focused. This encourages active participation and gives them a good reason to keep thinking about the webinar in the weeks that follow.

You can also infuse a lot of fun into your webinar with the visuals and formatting of your slides and presentation. Use GIFs, videos, and striking or familiar images that elicit emotion. Make important information stand out with non-standard fonts. And if you’re really feeling creative, you can add life to your presentation by giving it some kind of visual theme or including gamifying elements. Why just show bullet points of data when you can make it fun with a multiple choice or true or false question?

Judge your performance

Creating a simple exit survey can help marketers to judge the performance of the presenters and assess what content and format works well. The questions can be as simple as: How would you rate this webinar?

Many webinar platforms offer in-built analytics which can help you to evaluate success and gauge audience interest. Tracking metrics such as number of registrants is a good measure of how successful a topic is in signing up new registrants.

Another good metric to take note of is, the number of attendees in comparison to the number of registrants. Data gathered over the last year shows that the average attendance rate for marketing webinars is 37%. While this is relatively low, it does provide a great opportunity to continue the conversation with those who didn’t attend, nurturing them to explore other webinars and additional content.

Evaluation is key for improvement, so comparing previous webinars will allow you to gather insights and learn what captivates the audience and what causes them to stop paying attention.

– by Daniel Waas

Creators should look to blockchain to monetise digital video content

Content creators know that video can drive discovery, discussion, and consumption in authentic and innovative ways where other forms of content can fall short. These videocentric, highly-engaged audiences are highly prized by brands and publishers alike. They are influencers, they have disposable income and their appetite for compelling stimuli is insatiable.

Creators that can reach these audiences are in an incredible position to generate revenue from those brands, if they can align a brand with the right content and the right audience in a way that delivers influencer value as well as monetary value.

Where YouTube was once the leader and trend-setter of all things video, we’re seeing blockchain-based platforms and technology driving a period of evolution. These new technologies are pushing video towards decentralised marketplaces allowing everyone – users, advertisers, publishers and content creators – to win the monetised-video game.

In this new era, why should content creators and advertisers look to blockchain-based video platforms? Here are three reasons to consider:

Smart contracts

Before blockchain-based video platforms, content creators had little or no control over the monetisation models used to sell their work. This issue is addressed through smart contract technology, which is the backbone of how videos are monetised and shared on blockchain technology.

Depending on the platform, creators can be compensated in many different ways including pay-per-view, subscription, donations, or a combination of these options. Creators can also reward users for usage, such as embedding or seeding their video.

What makes smart contracts so attractive to creators? They have the power to decide how they’re compensated, and the revenue from pay-per-view (PPV), subscriptions, etc. goes directly to their wallets. Additionally, due to encryption, there is a high level of security associated with blockchain and smart contract technology, which is important when video content is shared globally via a decentralised market.

The Interactive Video and Experience Protocol (IVEP) is one such platform. An interactive video technology built on blockchain. It enables  audiences to engage with video to shop, chat, click, and share, using overlaying layers filled with interactive elements. It also allows and creators and advertisers to monetise and measure video content using the aforementioned layers. It provides free foundational smart contracts for creators and users within its core Layer. This includes the creation and use of digital currencies for transfer and settlement, registration of the IVEP experiences, and participant registration contracts that include trust scores and token accounting. The latter ensures reliable data minimises abuse of the system by disreputable advertisers and content creators alike.

This trust approach negates the need for the wide ranging demonetisation of channels that major streaming platforms have had to implement to avoid advertisers being inadvertently aligned with a small number of disreputable and offensive video types.

Decentralized marketplace

Another significant benefit of blockchain-based video platforms is that members dictate the use of the protocol, apps, and/or services to benefit all participants, something that is contrary to current dominant video platforms that continue to alter rules, demonetise select videos and channels, and favor key stakeholders; Audiences, and content creators, are not getting their fair share of the value they provide to publishers and advertisers who capture most of the gains while retention and engagement are decreasing.

Creation of decentralised marketplaces ensure content creators have a voice in video distribution and consumption – not just in its creation.

Smart objects

As retention and engagement decrease, new metrics and methods to assess video performance are necessary. Real human engagement metrics represent a significant improvement to existing attention-based metrics and can warrant a much higher premium for the participants who embrace such an approach.

Technologies such as IVEP can capture better metrics on interactions through the use of programmable smart objects and functions. IVEP can be used as a trusted and independent source by publishers, advertisers, and ad networks. It can be used to capture real human viewing data, engagement metrics, and user data.

One engagement feature offered through IVEP is a polling function. Surveying the audience right inside a video that is not tied to any one distribution platform allows marketers to access real-time insights from the audience and better identify customer needs, preferences and trends.

In addition to measurement enhancements, the IVEP’s programmable smart objects and functions also offer advanced monetisation features. One such feature available through its digital application (dApp) Store is a product placement tool for the digital world. IVEP allows digital products to be inserted into any video available on the open web, as well as into new digital experiences such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and live gaming. Video on-demand (VOD) services on all devices can benefit from digital product placement.

The community can also develop its own features, making use of the open architecture of the platform.

For content creators, the pros to joining a blockchain-based video platforms significantly outweigh the cons. From smart contracts allowing creators to have more say in how they’re compensated and how their work is distributed, to tools that are developed for the creator and marketer alike, everybody has a say.

While we’ve covered just three, more benefits will present themselves as content creators continue to shift their focus to video and monetisation features and as marketers continue to look for innovative video content and user experiences.

– by Fred Dionne

90% of UK video viewers regularly visit YouTube

YouTube has cemented its place as the undisputed leading platform for digital video in the UK, with eMarketer stating that the sites viewing is close to saturation point.

The company’s first market forecast for YouTube shows that through its sheer ubiquity and its easy integration on other content platforms have both contributed to its video dominance. 2018 will see 40.4 million (or six out of 10 people) will watch a video on the platform’s app or website at least once a month.

Watching videos over the internet is now firmly embedded in the UK. The spread of smartphone ownership and the proliferation of streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime mean that two thirds of the UK population now watch some form of digital video.

Facing competition

YouTube is not set in its position as top digital video dog, however, with competition coming from the popular streaming services. Another source of competition is a result of the increasing moves by consumers to watch content with their phone.

eMarkter is predicting that 64% of digital video viewers will use their mobile to view videos in the coming year. This means that YouTube will be competing with Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, all of whom have been investing significantly in video over the last few years.

“UK adults have been migrating their social media and video habits over to mobile for some time,” eMarketer senior analyst Bill Fisher said.

“It’s no surprise, then, that the social media platforms have been making major plays in the video space. YouTube viewership isn’t going to drop away, of course—it’s too well-established. But it’s going to have to compete for video-viewing time from a multitude of other options like never before.”

– by Colm Hebblethwaite

Convergence communiqué: Designing your story based on media and message (part two)

Are you watching The Crown, a biographical series on Netflix about the reign of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom? Wrapped within this historical story, there is a marketing lesson to be learned.

Even the most steadfast, traditional “brands”, such as the British Royal family, need constantly to review their messaging – without being blinded by preconceived internal and external beliefs – and to understand how their messaging is being perceived and viewed by the end users, in this case the population of Great Britain.

In developing and interpreting their narrative, “the management team” (Royal and governmental) failed to recognise that the narrative was in need of change and even if those in power knew a change was needed, few within the inner circle would accept that change.

In the end, the change did occur, though it was not a controlled, manageable change but rather a disastrous public confrontation that occurred due to unexpected circumstances—the death of Diana, Princess of Wales.

Internally

The first question you need to ask yourself is: What is your message—not only what is your external messaging but what is your internal messaging and how is your messaging being perceived internally?

Digging deeper

Ask your sales team to analyze their messaging and to explain how their sales message relates to the overall corporate messaging. You may be surprised to discover the answer. My experience indicates that about 80% of your sales team has revised your messaging to make it fit their level of comfort in conveying the message (creating a type of personal imprimatur, if you like) while the 20% of your sales team who are likely the most productive are more closely following your corporate messaging.

Go outside

If you have sales partners, retailers, distributors, and other external outlets, determine how, why, and what they have done to your corporate messaging. Again I think you will be surprised to find out how different your messaging is in the field. For an analogy, think of the kids’ game Telephone, or Chinese Whispers.

Be advised: I am not talking about branding nor your visual icon or “look.” I am talking about your message face to the public, your narrative, your script, your deep corporate soul statement.

Ask yourself

Do a self-analysis. Do you understand your own message? Is your story comprehensible? Does your narrative prepare the reader/viewer/listener for the desired end result? Look back to the first article in this series, “Designing your story based on media and message”, and determine if your story comes across as real or is perceived as a fact-based novel that is being read as a work of fiction. You can see the problem.

Are the various views of your message consistent? If not (as in most cases), determine where they are different and how that difference is hurting/hindering your story.

Once you have determined the real-world execution of your messaging (yes, execution in many ways is the correct word), determine what steps you can, will, or must undertake in order to correct any incorrect flow of words or to revamp the story to match your corporate desires and directives. This may be the easy part. Make sure you also take into consideration that the media selected to deliver your messages plays an important role in the message presentation and believability and, in the end, impacts the believably of your brand, enterprise, or corporation.

Visual words

When you construct messaging, do you see the words you use as direct statements or also as visual, graphic images or icons that relate not only word-based meaning (denotation) but also relay visual imagery (connotation) to add additional value to your wordsmithing?

Need a few examples? For instance, which would you select: sales call, or a profit-based opportunity? Seating plan or office assignment? Start a talk or begin a discussion? Leeching a source or sharing information? The selection and use of the correct words or phrases, visual or not, will positively or negatively impact your messaging.

Using visual wording is a complex and difficult task, since readers/viewers/listeners interpret words in different ways. In fact, many skeptics argue that visual words are make-believe, non-words, words that cannot be defined. Is BOGO now a new icon word that best describes an offer? Maybe. But we now live and purchase in a visual world.

For example, emojis are the first stage in visual wording. These icons allow us to relate quick and simple messaging to fit our needs. But can a tool like emojis work for every corporate enterprise or for every purpose? I think not. For example, I don’t think a smiley face with a halo is going to convince most customers that you have a good product or service to offer.

But words are visions, and visions are becoming more and more important to you to sell your product. So, to help deploy your message, you might want/need to add a few appropriate or clever icons, symbolic terms that are supportive of your message and cannot be miss interpreted.

This link, from Emojipedia, explains how different platforms use emojis instead of words. There are 14 emoji’s that can be used instead of the word happy. There are more than 50 emojis to express confusion. Many are seasonal or event sensitive.

Words can be incorrectly used as well. Think, write and think again – but make sure your message is clear!

Next communiqué: Have you storyboarded your message?

Editor’s note: Read the first section here.

– by Thaddeus Kubis

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