‘Buzz will die down but advocacy won’t’ - Venture Harbour's Marcus Taylor on playing the long game to build brand value through digital media

Building brand value through digital media is a no-brainer, according to Venture Harbour founder Marcus Taylor, but companies don't have to spend tens of thousands to do it.

“We’re always absorbing information that is changing and having an impact on our buying decision. It’s incredibly important for brands to not only be listening to these conversations but also be guiding them,” he told those gathered at the Lewis Silkin Brand Academy.

Taylor said it was in these conversations the opportunities lie to build brand value, and demonstrated with a graph presenting all of an individual’s relationships in terms of depth and duration.

“You might have long-term intimate relationships with friends and family and a long-term professional relationship with colleagues. Then you have short-term intimate relationships, one night stands or acquaintances, and then the short-term professional. That’s where you have brands,” he explained.

“It’s fair to say that you have the highest level of trust with the people in the top right hand quadrants [friends and family] and the lowest level of trust in the bottom left-hand quadrant [brands]. Social and digital media offer an amazing opportunity for brands to have the people who we have the highest level of trust with, recommending and affiliating themselves with brands and passing on that element of trust.”

He continued to state that the only question brands should be asking themselves now is how to put themselves closer to that intersection through digital media, as online is simply "where the people are."

“The first point is to say you don’t just throw more money at it. In my opinion the lower your budget the smarter your digital marketing budget must become. A low marketing budget forces you to think creatively, forces you to think more about viral marketing rather than becoming complacent and spending tens of thousands of pounds on a Facebook ad campaign,” he explained, before citing Kia as an exemplary brand outmanoeuvring its much larger competitors in the social media space.

“They’ve had to think more creatively, they can’t afford to just throw money at it and see what works. It’s forcing them to think about viral marketing,” he said. "Money is not the currency when it comes to being successful with online marketing. The real currency is having good ideas, creativity and understanding the platforms.”

His second piece of advice came in regards to content, to which Taylor said companies needed a combination of both quality and quantity. He commended Red Bull – and its 145-strong team dedicated to just creating content around the brand – for not only creating “incredible” content, but also for understanding the need for quantity.

“A lot of brands are starting to realise that to be successful online they have to become publishers. Burberry is another great example and recently said that they are as much a media publishing brand as they are a design brand. This is a key trend, and were going to see more of it over the next few years,” he predicted.

Red Bull, he added, also understood that it was often more valuable to be creating conversations around the brand rather than about it, which in the end was “more valuable that forcing people to talk about your product and services.”

He added; “Energy drinks are inherently not that interesting, but Red Bull are being incredibly smart in that they’ve positioned their products around the things that people naturally want to talk about like extreme sports, breaking world records, house parties.”

Taylor went on to say that brands must be embracing emerging opportunities online and innovating.

“We’re perhaps two years too late to be referring to mobile as innovative but it’s still and enormous opportunity for brands to be focusing on mobile advertising and marketing. It amazes me how cost effective mobile marketing still is – it costs about one third of the cost seeding content on mobile platforms than the desktop equivalent.”

He concluded on a point about buzz versus advocacy, claiming that most brands were "fantastic" when it came to building buzz online, they struggled when it came to building advocacy. For him, Interflora was a brand managing to build a strong digital presence. Its campaign to send a bunch of flowers to people tweeting that they’d had a bad day was his example of “exactly how digital media should be used" to build brand values.

“Buzz will die down,” he said. “But advocacy wont. So think about how your turning those one off customers into lifelong customers and making people connect and fall in love with the brand. That’s the opportunity around social media.”

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