Monthly Archives: July 2018

What makes customers tick?

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How do you know who you are marketing to?

You’ve done the customer surveys, read the online profiles, and spent hours curating content for your audience to download all so that you can build a profile of the perfect customer.

So how are you breaking this information down? We’ll bet it’s by age, or perhaps by gender, maybe both. But why can’t a 46-year-old female be interested in why the Huawei P20 has a better camera than the iPhone X?

That’s a classic b2c example and most of us typically assume it’s easier to market to consumers than to other businesses. After all, isn’t it only men over 50 who make the buying decisions when an enterprise decides to replace its cloud infrastructure?

Clearly the answer is no, but what’s the point? The point is that too often businesses focus their marketing efforts on demographics and binary characteristics like gender rather than focusing on personas or what makes people tick.

At Liberty, we like to advise our clients to think differently and not abide by this traditional maxim. When planning our marketing efforts alongside clients, we want to know who their customers really are. This means knowing what fills their heads, what they care about and how that translates to their activity both online and offline.

With this information, we are seeing forward thinking clients blaze a trail away from traditional demographic and geographic segmentation marketing. Instead, the innovators are exploring the value of psychographic and behavioural segmentation, and how this impacts marketing strategy.

Many may be thinking of the controversies surrounding Cambridge Analytica when reading this. In reality, what we are talking about is much simpler than that. By using publicly available customer behavioural data, as well as surveys and a bit of good old-fashioned desk research, marketing and communications strategies can better link their output to the neurons that help customers make that buying decision.

This is not a new marketing theory. It’s been around for years, but there are still marketing teams in b2b and b2c organisations that still have not got the hang of it. We’re able to help. Get in touch for a chat or some advice.

Big Tech’s Midlife Crisis

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Sitting on my couch watching one of my favorite sporting events this week, the World Cup, I had an epiphany. No, I didn’t suddenly realize how beautiful the game of fútbol is, or how a sport can transcend cultures. Instead, while watching the commercials I discovered that a lot of tech companies out there just can’t stop apologizing to me.

From Uber to Facebook, Silicon Valley is having an “I’m sorry” moment. Even Snapchat has got in on the act. Of course, not everyone has joined the apology tour just yet. Apple aims to stay above the fray by positioning itself as one of the more high-minded tech companies, but even they have a complicated relationship with this newfound “techlash” sweeping the globe.

Several tech companies have taken a public browbeating over a laundry list of issues as of late, and it’s natural to use PR to try and change the narrative. One could even suggest that ‘Big Tech’ is having a very public, midlife crisis.

With expanding workforces and a growing list of stakeholders, the tech industry can’t afford to play fast and loose with crisis communications. There’s just too much at stake. But unlike many other established industries who have dealt well with crises on the highest levels, much of the tech industry still has its ‘training wheels’ on, which has resulted in a lot of growing pains.

The poster child right now is Facebook, which was run through the coals for initially bungling its response to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, with blaring headlines such as “Where is Mark Zuckerberg?” only serving to fan the flames. In the key hours and days after The Guardian and The New York Times broke the story, the public face of Facebook was silent. With no solid, cohesive response they not only lost the public narrative – they practically handed it away.

Facebook and others are working hard to bounce back, but it’s arguable that to at least some extent that the damage has already been done. Having had first-hand experience working in newsrooms, I can tell you that the media often thinks in narratives, and establishes patterns over time. Bad crisis communications only feeds into this.

However, just as important as what the media thinks, is where the court of public opinion stands. Negative tweets and other social media comments in the heat of a crisis might as well be permanent tattoos, because they’ll never be erased.

There’s a common misconception that the impact of a crisis is measured in minutes and hours, but the reality is that it’s measured in years and decades. So, from startups to tech luminaries, it’s time to get used to the fact that the industry’s slate isn’t clean anymore. Crisis communications should be ingrained in every company’s long-term plans from day one.

And, what do I think? Well sitting on my couch, I silently nod my head as I begrudgingly accept Big Tech’s perfuse apologies. But please don’t do it again, I have another World Cup match to watch, where the most pressing crisis is whether my chips and guacamole will run out before halftime.

The tech transforming the 2018 FIFA World Cup

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As the world’s biggest sporting event, attracting an estimated 3.4 billion viewers globally this year, it isn’t surprising that the FIFA World Cup presents an attractive opportunity to showcase the latest and greatest in tech innovations as well as sporting finesse. This year’s Russia-hosted showpiece has been no different.

VAR

The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) has been a hotly contested addition to the technology roster for this year’s World Cup. Simply put, the technology allows referees to refer “game changing situations,” such as penalties, red cards, goals and mistaken player identities, to a video referee who is able to review numerous camera feeds to correct and clarify decisions as well as identify misjudgements.

Despite the relative simplicity of the tech, the uptake has been anything but seamless. Wrong decisions have still been made, crucial camera angles have not always been available and, having only been introduced to professional football in 2017, many referees have little or no experience working with VAR. In spite of this, FIFA has reported that VAR has contributed to 99.3% of refereeing decisions at this year’s World Cup being correct. ‘VARce’ or not, this is one innovation that may well define the 2018 World Cup.

5G

As perhaps the biggest of the tech buzzwords today, it’s unsurprising that 5G has made its way onto the list of impressive technologies being showcased in Russia this summer. Though we’re still a little way off the commercial rollout of 5G, Russian Operator MTS and Megafon, the official communications partner for the World Cup, have been hosting trials of the technology to coincide with the event.

Perhaps most notable, was the partnership between MTS and global network infrastructure provider Ericsson, to deploy Europe’s largest Massive MIMO (an advanced mobile technology) and install 5G-capable radio equipment across more than 40 sites across the host cities to facilitate better connectivity across stadiums, fan zones and transport hubs.

4K UHD Video

With billions of viewers tuning in around the world, each World Cup tends to coincide with the unveiling of new broadcast technology. In 2014 it was the trials for 4K video; this year, the World Cup has provided a platform for 4K Ultra High Definition (UHD) video.

Available to viewers with compatible TV sets, the technology boasts four times the level of detail in terms of picture clarity with enough pixels to fill four full HD 1080p screens – 8,294,200 to be exact.

Championing the cause for the UK, the BBC has made 4K UHD video feed available to stream via iPlayer. However, with this tech still in its infancy and streaming capacity limited to only tens of thousands of the millions of UK viewers, we may have to wait a few more years before we can tune in en masse to share the experience.

This week’s semi-finals are looming and with technology equipping supporters to watch the games almost anywhere – be it on a connected device waiting for the tube or with 200+ fans in one of London’s busy bars – the widespread excitement is perhaps more tangible now than for any World Cup previous. Fuelling the enthusiasm, social media delivers a continuous flow of news and commentary to our handsets and invites even the more reticent amongst us to engage and take part.

The final games are yet to be played and the scores to be determined, but perhaps the greatest win for the 2018 World Cup will be for the technology that has cultivated this football culture.

Forbes Europe forging a new identity after The Memo merge

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Liberty recently attended a media briefing with Alex Wood, European Editor at Forbes, who talked about big plans for Forbes Europe over the next year.

In 2015, Wood founded an ‘edgy’ tech publication called The Memo. Its mission? ‘Make the Future More Human.’ Fast-forward to 2018 and The Memo has merged with Forbes, making him European Editor.

Since then, Wood has cultivated an ethos he cemented at The Memo. Traditionally, Forbes magazine is associated with the ‘Warren Buffets’ of the business world. Although it’s still the face of the biz bigwigs, Wood is reshaping Forbes into a brand that empowers startups and early stage companies with significant column inches. Moving forward, this is a huge opportunity for smaller organisations who want to be featured in one of the biggest business publications.

Wood also hit the nail on the head when it comes to the modern media landscape – “we can’t be everywhere, and we can’t do everything.”

From a PR perspective, this speaks volumes. PR consultants not only need to give journalists a compelling story that’s relevant to their publication, but it needs to be tailored to a specific writer’s topic specialism and pertinent to the hot topic of the day. Even then, it’s simply impossible for journalists these days, who are limited by budgeting and staff constraints, to pick up and run with everything. This especially rings true for top tier business titles like Forbes.

That said, this Forbes Europe team is determined to widen the net of its contributor model, with plans to expand on the 2,000 contributors that make it the world’s biggest business site.

Big plans are also in the works for a dedicated European section in the print edition, and the contributor model is also going to be supplemented with high quality new profiling series’ like the ‘How to Boss it Like’ series. These elements are certainly testament to Wood’s ambition, and we’re looking forward to seeing how the bureau develops over the course of the year.

One thing’s for sure, Alex Wood is still determined to ‘make the future more human’.