Marketing Trends at the British Library

Sonja Jefferson

Sharon and I are proud to have been part of a new marketing event run by our publishers Kogan Page last week. Marketing Trends at the British Library featured talks by authors of four new books, looking at the latest marketing thinking and tactics. All our books are very different yet some consistent themes emerged with clear lessons for marketers and businesses too. Here’s what I took away from the event.

New marketing trends

Joeri van den Bergh from Insites Consulting and author of How Cool Brands Stay Hot took us behind the scenes of the brand strategies of Nokia, H&M, Levis, and Coca-Cola to reveal how to maintain your edge with Generation Y – the savviest generation ever. They expect to interact with a brand, to be involved and have control over the outcome. This generation has influenced us all. Today you have to play for attention.

Digital historian Paul Springer and the co-author of his book Pioneers of Digital traversed the globe interviewing the people who made the internet what it is today – from Stephen Fry to TED.com’s June Cohen to key names at Google, Microsoft and Facebook (plus the man who traded a paperclip for a house). Paul’s digital pioneers had some important lessons for us: real success comes from loving what you do and being true to yourself; from decision making in real time; being customer-centred, relevant, and of the right time.

From the inside of Adland Simon Pont looked at transmedia storytelling – a fascinating tour of how brands are blurring the lines between platforms (and sometimes even reality) to go viral. Taken from his new book, When Fiction Bleeds, Simon showed entertaining and downright hilarious examples of the move from straight advertising to imaginative story-telling across many different media, highlighting businesses getting it so right and some so wrong.

And then there was Sharon, me and our Valuable Content Marketing book. As marketing and media professionals we keep getting told we need to produce more content. But if everyone is producing more, how do you make yours stand out from the rest? And how do you motivate people to act upon it? Our practical session got marketers to think about what makes valuable content in a world awash with the stuff. Results come not from just ‘doing content’ or ‘producing more content’, but by making it helpful, entertaining, authentic, relevant, and timely for your particular audience.

Lessons for marketers

As marketers, what can we take away from all this?

  • Your buyers are in control. No debate here. The power balance has shifted from you to them.
  • They won’t be manipulated – so don’t even try or in our transparent, connected world they’ll see right through it. You can only ever motivate people to buy your stuff, never force their hand.
  • Content is still king but only if it’s valuable. Don’t be content with just content – make sure it’s valuable to your audience.
  • Marketing relies on good narrative. Tell a good story across the array of channels and media we now have available to us – interesting, authentic, personal narrative is appreciated and spread.

One consistent theme shone through all the talks and that is the desire for authenticity: for companies to show their human face; to act in the best interests of their customers; to be truthful; to do business in a principled way, with a conscience. This for me was the nub of all the messages. Technology gives us the opportunity to connect with our audiences like never before but we only win if we keep it real.

So if you want your audience to fall in love with your brand, your firm then take note. Put some heart back into your marketing. That’s the real trend.

How about you? If you attended (or participated in) the event does this sum up what you took away? I would love to know.

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