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[Digital Marketing] Three challenges with digital and how to solve them

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“People still can’t agree on what digital means.”
“Digital” is an essential requirement for anyone wanting to do business with connected consumers. The problem is that “digital” means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. It’s fuzzy to most because we’re dealing with diverse interpretations, lack of technical know-how and contrasting perspectives from individuals on both the client and agency sides.

Firstly, the introduction of technology is not a cue to try and reinvent marketing – the cycle remains the same: Strategy (your insight and plan,) Content (output like video, audio, copy and design) and Data (the results) still need to rely and feed one another to be effective.

Secondly, sit down and have a good think about how to take your clients to school in the most efficient and entertaining way possible, using points of reference that they understand.

For example, when justifying the need for quality content, a Facebook page can be equated to a party venue. Media is how you spread your invitations to get people there. But on arrival if there’s no DJ, no drinks at the bar and no water in the jacuzzi, then people aren’t going to have a great time. In fact they will likely leave and tell their friends how terrible it was. Content, in this case, is the bubbling water, drinks on tap and some good tunes to get down to.

The digital vs Tradition red herring

For some reason, people still think that digital and “traditional” are two separate entities that have to be treated differently. We strategise for digital differently, we have separate budgets for it, and the way we talk about it puts it in silos.

Digital has been around long enough that it’s now traditional. YouTube is the TV of today. Social networks as media channels are the norm. And mobile access surpassing computers validates change.

Existing agency departments need to find ways of incorporating digital. An example would be gearing up a media department to go beyond selecting and placing adverts on TV, radio and into print. They need to become experts on online media including channels like search, display, social and mobile.

People are displaying fear instead of embracing evolution

Consumers are defining the way we do business and agencies are struggling to help their clients become more agile and find (or create) the right tools and techniques to enable their teams to achieve a digital mind-set that will ultimately become part of the day-to-day approach in a collaborative way.

Agencies will more than ever be required to help their clients see things from the consumers’ perspective. But they will need to provide insights and offer tools to justify their motives. Digital marketers need to know more about the idiosyncrasies of their customers businesses.

If brands can feed data that ordinarily wouldn’t make it’s way to the agencies eyes, and vice versa, then digital as an enabler of sharing this information can contribute to the full consumer journey by allowing identification of opportunities and mitigation risks along the way.

You don’t need to look past the generation of leads as an example of sharing data in a way that aids both agency and customer. Agencies need to tap into what happens after the lead has been passed along to gain insight into the quality of the leads to have a chance at refining the consumer journey within the customers business itself.

How to wrap it all up

When something is both art and science, like digital, there are a lot of moving parts. You can’t expect to hinge them all together effectively if you and you and your clients are not familiar with the roles that each individual part can play.

The Innovators is a book by Walter Isaacson in which Bill Gates explains one of the reasons his love affair for technology began was because “When you use a computer you can’t make fuzzy statements. You make only precise statements.”

It’s time for agencies to operate in a more precise manner by considering key challenges they will face on their paths to meeting their client’s objectives: time, budget and scope to name a few.

When the scope of a marketing effort evolves or increases, the time and cost required to get it done increases too. A tight time constraint could mean increased costs and reduced scope, and a tight budget could mean increased time and reduced scope.

To overcome these challenges, agencies need to become more agile and find (or create) the right tools and techniques to enable their teams (not just the project managers) to organise their work to meet these constraints. By achieving this, information transparency will ultimately become part of the day to day approach on clients. And it is this information in the context of strategy, content and data that fuels innovation.

[Digital Marketing] Three challenges with digital and how to solve them
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Diving over the Digital Edge: Lucia Maseko, John Gevisser & Glenn Gillis

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This year’s Digital Edge speaker line-up is impressive. We spoke to three of this year’s speakers, each inspiring in their own way…
Take Lucia Maseko, the EMENA Regional Digital Champion or Lead at Nestlé. She feels women should be celebrated all the time, and that awareness of equality should be prevalent all the time, people should be reminded constantly that we as women are great and in every way capable. And even though a glass ceiling does exist for women, she feels you have a choice to whether it defines your future/destiny – she chooses to break the glass ceiling.

Or take John Gevisser, CEO of Gamma Fly, South Africa’s first Gamification Software Development software-as-a-service company. He also set up Pearson’s New Entertainment divisions UK national sales network and delivered SA’s first internet shopping mall for MWeb while creating the largest server-based gaming operation in the world, BetStone. With his commercial background in media and gaming Gevisser is entrepreneurially driven, and definitely tech-savvy.

Then there’s Glenn Gillis, Managing Director of Sea Monster Entertainment, one of South Africa’s pre-eminent animation, gaming and augmented reality companies. He has a Business Science degree from UCT and has been a senior executive, consultant and entrepreneur with growing, knowledge intensive businesses for over 20 years. He’s also the co-founder and chair of Relate, a social trust that has provided R25m worth of employment opportunities and donations for other good causes, by making 1 million beaded bracelets in three years.

Who better to share some insights into how all things digital have changed life as we know it?

Bizcommunity1. Let’s focus on the importance of digital – is there anything you can think of that doesn’t benefit from digital/tech innovation?

Maseko: Nothing at all!

Gevisser: Privacy. Traditional hierarchies. Writing cursive. Funerals.

Gillis: No, everything is better with digital… but seriously, of course digital is just a means-to-an-end, a delivery platform and a catch-all phrase that in itself can be sometimes useful and sometimes meaningless. Ultimately it’s about the experience, and how to drive the business or social outcome using the most appropriate digital and technical platforms.

Bizcommunity2. Explain the concept of digital storytelling, the backbone of any marketing today. 

Maseko: I think we should always remember that there’s always the story and then the platform on which we deliver our stories. We should try not get caught up in the platform as we tend to lose the story and want to change the story to suit the platform. The concepts/ideas are the elements that are important in building that narrative for a brand, I believe with time that narrative always evolves as the ideas change or as the brand story grows. Storytelling is about connectivity and the digital space allows a dialogue to happen within that story.

Gevisser: With all games, the games field of play allows the player a certain flexibility to determine the pace and velocity of the story of what happens – albeit within the confines of the rule set. Think chess -when on the attack, I can move my pawn in three different ways, but I determine the ways. Digital games have given the player much more ability to determine the flow of the story. As gamification uses game designs (components, mechanics and dynamics) to establish and engage participants in corporate programs, storytelling is the primary driver of this engagement.

Gillis: Stories are how people have always made sense of the world around them, and now more than ever, we need to find new narratives. As people struggle to deal with increasing complexity and an unrelenting stream of noise in their lives, we need to find ways to effectively compete in the attention economy. Whether this is to grow brands, create entertaining experiences or drive learning outcomes, the essence of successful communication has always been great stories, with engaging characters.

Specifically, as technology has given greater power to consumers to express themselves, brands need to shift their thinking away from one-sided, “shouty” communication to embracing the new realities that digital media bring. Whether we call it content marketing or digital storytelling, the reality is that people want information and experiences that are relevant, add value and are entertaining.

Bizcommunity3. List the three digital innovations that have changed your life. 

Gevisser: GPS (Uber is nothing without it), access/availability/democracy of information, and autonomy (of drones).

Gillis: The Apple interface and design language prove that things can become simpler and more intuitive over time. At Sea Monster we’re also big believers in augmented reality (and hopefully now virtual reality) to deliver engaging, contextual experiences. The power of mobile devices to deliver gaming and other experiences where we want them and how we want them.

Bizcommunity4. Is SA – and the rest of the continent – on par when it comes to global digital innovation? Share your thoughts! 

Maseko: There are no borders to digital so in this case there shouldn’t be any in measuring digital innovation. The journeys are different… We have created so many innovations on the continent that have changed lives, and that is what matters the most. Innovations that can change people’s lives for the better.

Gevisser: Practically we are not on a par, mainly due to access of services, which is as much about the pipes and devices as it is about the cost. However, there are parts of SA and Africa that are right up there. Take the issue of ‘access’ as an example. if you sit with a big pipe in Johannesburg, you can access anything that the net has to offer. If you sit in Gugulethu, you may not have the big pipe, but you could have a smartphone, and have the same access, albeit slower. Stellenbosch has made access pretty widespread and it’s free, but Stellenbosch isn’t Timbuktu, and it ain’t Orange Farm. Without access, innovation sits in a darkened room. Our data in SA is some of the most expensive in the world, which makes accessibility even more difficult. But with delivery of USSD services, SMS technology, digital mobile wallets, banking, our feature phones are right up there with the best in world. Not just in SA, but also East Africa. And when it comes to social aggregation and utilisation of digital innovation: The Arab Spring started in Tunisia…

Gillis: Yes, we can certainly compete with the best of Africa and the world. Clearly though we have a challenging economic and political environment, and on a good day this drives our creativity and ability to deliver relevant, practical solutions. On a bad day it can lower everyone’s appetite for risk, lead to mediocre, same-same outcomes and not allow for the big bold investments that are needed to drive big bold outcomes.

Bizcommunity5. Who are your personal inspirations/mentors? 

Maseko: I’m inspired by so many people in my space in different ways. I allow myself to be inspired in the smallest ways to keep that light burning. My mother is my greatest source of personal inspiration, not forgetting my aunt Maud Motanyane and the late Gugu Radebe Akpata. These women have always had my front, back and side.

Gevisser: All the South Africans who are pushing the digital boundaries internationally – in the performance arts, like Goldfish and Jeremy Loops; art, like William Kentridge and Nandapho Mntambo; innovation, like Elon Musk; palaeontology, like the late Philip Tobias and now Lee Berger; and politics, like Mandela. My children also count as they have an ability to work digital with the intuitive nature that I wish I had. This applies especially to digital music production.

Gillis: I am quite opposed to the celebrity culture… being a great author doesn’t necessarily make you an authority on human rights, for example. I’m a huge admirer though of anyone who can rise above their current circumstances to look beyond the obvious and redefine the questions or challenges. I admire the Arch Tutu and Thuli Madonsela for asking the hard questions, and my brother, Arthur Gillis, who started Protea Hotels and built it into the biggest hotel group in Africa. They hold the characteristics of true leaders.

Bizcommunity6. Who’s getting it right in terms of digital at the moment? 

Maseko: For me it’s campaign-specific: Uber, Oreo, Dove, and sports brands on their collaborations in the digital space: Nike, Adidas, Puma.

Gevisser: Digital music production suites like Ableton, as well as Amazon, Reading, AWS, drones… it just makes sense.

Gillis: That’s a hard one to answer without getting involved in the politics of digital media. Clearly Naspers is using its size to its advantage and showing us how to build global businesses to compete with the best media companies anywhere. Similarly, I’m inspired by Pep and how they’re disrupting the smart phone market, to bring access to many more people.

Bizcommunity7. What are you most looking forward to from Digital Edge Live?

Maseko: The stories! Females in particular can benefit from continuously telling their story and owning the narrative of that story.

Gevisser: How our own stories can intersect and help each other find and map new and future chapters… hearing what great things our dynamic and vibrant people are doing here. Listening.

Gillis: Really loving the format, and the opportunity to learn from and share experiences with so many incredible thought leaders in our industry. And of course to hear from Spike Lee, one of the greatest storytellers of our age.

Seems the Spike Lee excitement is a common point no matter your specialty. Click here for more on this year’s Nedbank Digital Edge Live line-up, taking place on 9 September 2015 at the Sandton Convention Centre. Visit to secure your booking and here for insights from other speakers on this year’s programme.

Diving over the Digital Edge: Lucia Maseko, John Gevisser & Glenn Gillis
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The next era of retail disruption: Experience

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As technology continues to advance, we see a shift in consumer expectations which, in turn, leads to retailers rethinking their in-store strategies. This morphing of the retail landscape isn’t anything new. Every 50 years or so, retailing undergoes this kind of disruption.

With each change, the retail landscape is redefined in order to meet consumer expectations. Retailers who don’t embrace the change eventually die out, forgotten, lost amongst the more innovative companies who are driven to meet the rising consumer expectations.

A century and a half ago, around the 1850s, the growth of big cities made possible the modern department store. Fifty years later saw newly formed suburbs being lined with shopping centers and specialty retailers, challenging the city-based department stores. The 1960s and 1970s saw the spread of big discount chains — Kmart, Walmart, Coles and the like.


Now let’s jump ahead another 50 years to today, where we are seeing yet another disruption in retail. These shopping centers, specialty retailers and big discount chains have been fiercely competing on price, especially since the introduction of e-commerce in the 1990s. Consumers have the ability to source a cheaper option efficiently; therefore price is no longer the only key factor in the consumer decision-making process. Consumers are now willing to pay more for an experience. Take note, the key word here = experience.

Addressing this latest disruption in retail, the experience, requires the right mix of new technologies, processes and strategies designed to address the changing marketplace of consumer demands and needs.

Technology is the key enabler for meeting today’s consumer expectations.

Think about it. Smartphones, smart watches, smart TVs … everyone has one. So let’s think about how these products are being marketed to the consumer in-store. The three-by-three video wall in the window grabs attention of passersby. The Kinect interactive game on a portrait video wall entertains them while they wait. The touchscreen configurator allows them to compare products, find extensive information and even build their own product.

But what if you’re not selling a technological product?

Technology can still assist in your sales process.

A video wall can attract attention of passers-by, no matter your brand. The Kinect interactive game can still entertain your consumers. Or a touchscreen configurator can allow your consumer to visualize your product, build their own product or view your extensive range. The technology also will be of assistance to your staff in the sales process, providing extensive product details and handy hints — leaving your staff to focus on providing the human side of the consumer experience.

Basically, the possibilities with technology are endless and are continually being developed.

And, your consumers are embracing technology at a faster rate than ever before. It is now expected to not only see digital solutions everywhere, but to interact with them. The consumers of 2015 are demanding an interactive experience that engages and empowers them.

Retailers need to embrace this latest disruption in retail — the experience — in order to keep up with ever-growing consumer expectations. And technology is a key part of doing so.

The next era of retail disruption: Experience
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