Welcome back to the office – where the coffee isn’t as good (or expensive) as your new Nespresso machine and the emails are yet to build up (after everyone has forgotten their passwords after too much Christmas port).
Whilst the rest of the marketing world write about the trends they predict 2017 will bring, we thought we’d share some of the marketing misgivings that we’d rather see the back of over the next 12 months.
If you’ve sat through much television over the festive break, you’ll have realised how many brands are now just whacking a ‘#’ at the front of their campaign strapline and having it sit at the end of their TV ads.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for hashtags, but when they’re bolted on to the back of a 30 second broadcast ad with no social purpose, nothing that people can relate to or are inclined to discuss, then it’s just a brand doing a bit of dad dancing to show they “get” how these ‘social medias’ work.
You know the agency will have been briefed – ‘we need to transfer the viewers online (where we will post the same TV ad on our YouTube channel)’.
If you’re going to use a hashtag in your TV, print or OOH ads, then at least try and make it something people would want to get involved with – even if it’s just a quick skim over on their Twitter feed.
And if you decide to continue with this trend of hashtag-washing, then please try and use it in your radio scripts. It will be a real treat for the ears.
I refuse to be another contributor to the lazy stereotyping that uses the M-word. We’ll happily miss out on the SEO-hit of someone searching for the latest M-word article to post on LinkedIn.
Maybe in 2017 we will progress beyond the M-word into new and exciting audience sub-categories. How about ‘Centurions’ (everyone born last century) or ‘Mobile Natives’ (those born after Steve Jobs’ 2007 announcement of the iPhone).
Or how about we make an effort to understand behaviour can be cross-generational, rather than banding people in half-baked age brackets and calling them a marketable segment.
3. Suspect Stats
See almost every piece of brand commissioned research that was used for PR in 2016.
Unfortunately, the motivations of the business often overtake the credibility of the research, resulting in press releases (and press coverage) around stats that are formed by dodgy samples, bias analysis and crafty structuring of the findings.
We love a good stat here at Pretty Pragmatic, but a bit more rigour would be nice in 2017. It could also help brands demonstrate a bit more understanding of the wider world of their customers.
In the meantime, we fully recommend listening to the BBC’s More or Less podcast to give you a weekly update of how manipulative the world of PR statistics has become, and the reality behind the numbers.
4. “Digital First”
If you’re doing digital first, then when do you think about your audience? After the tactics? Oh…
There’s plenty of articles around this time of year with titles like ‘Let’s stop calling it digital marketing, it’s just marketing’ and the like. But this isn’t that point.
This is simply that too often the execution precedes the objective. ‘Digital first’ has become a trendy thing that’s said to look progressive. But, in reality, it indicates a tactical rather than strategic approach to marketing.
Mark Ritson puts it nicely:
So in 2017, let’s put strategy first, tactics second.
5. Big Bad Data
Data’s great. Used properly, you can do interesting and insightful stuff with it. Just take a look at what Spotify recently did with it:
Unfortunately, Spotify is in the minority.
It’s said that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, and too many marketers (and, to be fair, boards) are trying to make big decisions with misaligned, poorly analysed data and statistics.
Mistaking correlation for causation is to be expected in the early days of working with big data sets, so it’s important to take a step back and look from a different perspective when you do find something that could be a game changer to make sure it stacks up.
A great example of how big data can present false positives is here from fivethirtyeight.com. They ran food research covering 26 different categories (e.g. left or right handedness), that spanned 1,066 variables, which was then run through 27,716 regressions – of which produced 1,386 false positives. These false positives included: people that regularly consume table salt also having a positive relationship with their internet service provider; and people with ‘innie’ belly buttons being more likely to eat cabbage.
For anyone considering a January detox after recently reading an article related to food research…this article may also be an eye opener!
But brands are now facing the same challenges – where large datasets present extensive ways of gaining insight into customers and business performance.
Yet establishing where data is connected and going beyond just comparing two variables is critical to understand the full picture presented by the information and not just clinging to where the data aligns.
So, in 2017, we hope to see big data analysed properly, rather than looking for shortcuts to find ‘insights’ that can result in big data leading to bad decisions.
There’s plenty to be optimistic and excited about in 2017, but whilst we’re enjoying all that it has to offer let’s make a resolution to get rid of some of the bad habits that could hold us back over the next 12 months, and put an end to some of these trends.