Tricks of the trade

Three reasons we ‘like’ the removal of social media likes

· Content Marketing, Trends, Tricks of the trade

When Instagram announced the removal of likes on the platform, we mourned the easy access we had to an influencer’s top line engagement metrics; concerned about what it would mean for social media and influencer marketing.

Three months on, Facebook has now decided to trial the removal of likes in Australia. This is a bold decision for the social media giant who made the ‘thumbs up’ a globally recognised symbol of online popularity and approval.

When Facebook announced the major platform change on Monday, the social media giant cited similar motivations that led Instagram to remove the like count. Mia Farlick, the ANZ Director of Policy at Facebook said, ‘the test aimed to help people focus less on likes and more on telling a story’. From this, we can conclude that it’s a way of harnessing the social elements of the platform and shifting away from the popularity contest that negatively affected the mental health of many Australians.

Three months on, we also believe this change has also benefitted the world of social media and influencer marketing.

Here are 3 reasons why we should be celebrating the removal of likes:

We can measure what matters

While likes are a great way to measure how engaged your audience is with your content, it has been known to overshadow more important metrics, like driving traffic to a website. Now that this ‘vanity’ metric is hidden, it gives us the opportunity to explore other measurement options that are likely more important for a client’s bottom line.

It could lead to more authentic content from influencers

The removal of likes allows influencers to experiment with new types of creative that break away from highly curated feeds and ‘polished’ content. This could be beneficial for brand collaborations by making their endorsements carry more weight due to the influencers not being so dependent on the validation of likes.

It could create more genuine communities

By removing the like count, we can use social media platforms to create more conversation. This means encouraging comments and creating a space where a consumer’s opinions are valued. Perhaps this change will entice consumers to write a comment or send a DM instead of hitting the like button, creating genuine consumer-brand relationships.

What’s next?

At this stage, we don’t know if the removal of likes will become the platform’s standard operating procedure. But we’re hoping this change is here to stay.

Could the follower count be next to go?

Putting a spin on data: media relations in the digital age

· Trends, Tricks of the trade

Australia’s lagging broadband speed aside, the amount of data we produce daily is astronomical. And it’s only set to increase. By 2020, there will be 40 times more bytes of data than there are stars in the universe.

This data economy has paved the way for whole new industries – tech giants like Google, Amazon and Facebook wouldn’t be where they are today if not for their complex algorithms which analyse trillions of data points on billions of people every day.

For traditional industries like media, understanding data has become a matter of survival. The changing ways we consume media has put a strain on traditional news outlets, which have seen major contraction.

But in true Darwinist fashion – data savvy media are thriving.

Australia’s most visited online news outlets (the likes of your News.com.au and Daily Mail) have seen readership surge through the adoption of a churn and burn publishing model, which feeds data on article clicks, shares and search performance straight back into editorial planning.

Successful online publications are agile, reactive and (thanks to data) understand their readers implicitly. As a result, their stories consistently climb to the top of our news feeds.

Media has evolved, it’s time we did too

Public relations professionals have traditionally relied less on data and more on experience to inform strategy, at least compared to their counterparts in other marketing disciplines.

You could argue that an industry built on relationships doesn’t have the same need to digitise its practices – but to really claim a deep understanding of today’s media, we need to start looking at the news cycle with the same analytical lens.

When applied to PR, data is an amazing tool. You can use data to predict news cycles and trends, discover the topics and content formats that track higher for social engagement, and even pinpoint the best day of the week or time of the day to go out with your story.

On top of ideation, data can help identify the publications and journalists that have the highest share of voice on a given topic, allowing us to better tailor the news we share with them, and ultimately get our clients’ word in front of the right audiences.

With journalists increasingly measured by clicks, shares and search performance, data allows us to unearth new insights and story hooks to turn a good story into a great one.

You don’t have to be a data scientist to get started

A tool you can get going with right away is Google Trends, an effort born from Google’s News Initiative to help journalists thrive in a digital context.

With 5 billion searches made on the internet every day, search data is a powerful tool for gauging public sentiment on current affairs and breaking news, which can be used to inform a direction of thinking, or even generate a story in itself.

Following mass bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef, we uncovered a spike in public concern which provided a timely hook to the work our client, Greening Australia is doing to improve water quality in the region. News.com.au’s environment editor even worked the search trend into her coverage.

More recently, we worked with NT News on a story revealing Territorians made more searches on average around access to legal medicinal cannabis. The insights were coupled with survey data and commentary from Australian medicinal cannabis company Althea, allowing our client to add expert context to the data.

Digging for a story? Proprietary data is a goldmine

Most brands, consumer facing or not, are collectors of data. While their data might not seem like much on face value, when analysed correctly it could be just the type of information that journalists are hungry for.

For those unequipped to analyse spreadsheets or databases, there are others who will do the hard yards for you; Data Journalists are a new breed of journalist, exploring the vast amount of digital information being made available and finding digestible ways of presenting it.

We not long ago partnered with Fairfax Data Journalist Craig Butt to create traffic-led stories using Traffic Analytics tools from HERE Technologies, a global provider of mapping services and location data intelligence technology.

Thanks to a strong local appetite for traffic and congestion stories, the result was a series of in-depth articles rolled out across Fairfax’s mastheads utilising HERE’s powerful data and featuring commentary from HERE’s traffic and location technology experts. The data was brought to life through interactives displaying how traffic congestion impacts commuting, which are used in breaking traffic stories to this day.

The Fairfax team are so proud of this collaboration that they have twice put forward the joint project for Australian journalism awards.

And there’s no reason this approach can’t work with other industries. Any data that creates debate, sparks a conversation with audiences or illustrates the problem your brand is solving has the potential to increase awareness through column inches.

Just like we’re seeing with the media industry, the growing ubiquity of data has the power to transform public relations for the better – if we as communicators are willing to learn and adapt.

RIP listicles: Resurrecting quality content in the wake of Buzzfeed’s fall

· Content Marketing, Trends, Tricks of the trade

For almost a decade now, eight big red letters have ruled our news feeds. But has the virality behind BuzzFeed’s infamous startup success story seen its peak?

Last week, the $2.4 billion company announced it was cutting 15% of their workforce in their biggest reshuffle to date. Eleven out of those 200 roles are currently held by Australian employees. Financial performance lies at the core of this crash, with an impending defamation lawsuit also on the cards.

While we remain hopeful that the digital outlet will find its feet, we must ask ourselves: where would our media landscape be without mass listicles, click-bait quizzes and meme-driven blog posts?

And, should we have to live without them, how can we mould our content strategies to suit the incoming status quo – now and over the next few years?

Other free digital outlets are showing similar cause for concern, with Conde Nast rumoured to be putting up paywalls on all their US titles, and free online news sites taking knocks in all corners.

In the wake of these changes, brands need to be able to bring understanding of their audiences in-house and avoid simply imitating trending media formats – in other words, learn to stand on their own two feet. Here, a renewed focus on what the people want, and how best to give it to them, is imperative.

A few things we learnt from the red giant

BuzzFeed’s growth story is a real crash course in digital disruption, altering their offerings and constantly improving their content for search optimisation and mass engagement. They played into the waiting thumbs of young audiences around the world. What do the people want? Cat GIFs. What are the people going to get? You guessed it. Cat GIFs.

At some level, they helped to invent a new media landscape: the biggest-scale digital model for revenue production they could come up with. And then they kept evolving.

They branched out to feed the outliers, with more sophisticated platforms like the Pulitzer Prize-nominated BuzzFeed News. They saturated the social media space – when Facebook became all about the video, they did too, and very effectively at that. And they partnered with brands to create bespoke native advertising, providing an “authentic” means of talking to millennials when brands didn’t know how to.

Their agility has been remarkable, hinged on a dedication to understanding their audiences’ interests. But with so many shifts in consumer perception, brands can’t just outsource their audiences to the big players.

Know your audience, and how best to speak to them

These days, in a world of increasing automation, algorithms and fake news, consumers are craving the one thing that we won’t likely lose in a hurry: genuine humanity. Authentic stories told by real people that really connect and provide value to the reader are the way forward in a market where consumer trust is hard-won and cut-through is nigh on impossible.

According to Danone CEO Emmanuel Faber, millennial influence is a key driver of this shift: “They want committed brands with authentic products. Natural, simpler, more local and if possible small, as small as you can.”

In fact, a study showed that big brands in the US were losing $22bn market share over only five years owing to the audience’s favour of small companies. And VICE’s new youth survey The Big Shrink surveyed 3,700 16-38 year-olds, finding that avoiding stereotypes and hero-ing credibility and authenticity is the only way forward for media in the 21st century.

So, yes. The “Which Melancholy Vegetable Matches your Personality?”quiz will always be great for a mindless scroll on the morning tram commute (I’m a ‘downcast cabbage’ if anyone is interested). But in a world now over-saturated with this kind of viral celeb-centred content, and fraught with global disaster, readers are beginning to want to know more about real stories and real value closer to home.

Blended, owned content strategies are the future

The news of BuzzFeed’s potential diminishment in the market signals a need for organisations to build blended content strategies, where their owned assets (such as a website, content hub or, god forbid, a database) live at the centre of their publishing priorities.

This is firstly because we clearly can’t rely on the digital media gods (Vice, Vox, Refinery and more) to provide their services in perpetuity, or rely on the fact that their model will be relevant in perpetuity. They are as prone to market weakness as anyone is, and shouldn’t be leant on in place of internal innovation.

But it’s also because a healthy mix of owned and quality earned media will prove more sustainable in the long run, and paint a more holistic view of your brand from the outset. By tapping into your own amplification and distribution channels, you can engage your (well-defined) audiences on a more intimate level amongst their daily highs and lows to truly create resonance and connection – rather than relying on a third party or superficial templated posts.

Owning and creating your own brand of storytelling with authentic, engaging and actually interesting content that caters to the right audiences, is a sure way to weather the digital storm.

Change is inevitable, but real stories last forever.

Article originally published on Mumbrella,

5 food photography tips with our studio manager

· Trends, Tricks of the trade

We know a thing or two about food at Keep Left – just check out our Instagram stories for proof!

To celebrate our new kitchen and photography studio being open for business, we sat down with our Studio Manager, Natasha Pavlou to find out her top five tips for creating the perfect foodie photo.

Planning is key

As with any creative project – planning and preparation is key to getting the result you want.

Natasha recommends visualising what you want the final image to look like and working backwards from there.

“When we are doing a shoot we always plan out the shot list and break down the suggested styling and background elements.

Think about the dish itself – if you’re baking a layered cake and want to photograph it from a 45 degree angle, a cake stand may be the way to go. Or perhaps you’re baking cookies then placing them on a cooling rack. In this case, it may be better to shoot from above to add some texture and layers to the shot.”

Find great light

Lighting can be tricky in food shoots.

“Making food look delicious on camera can be a lot trickier than you think. Sometimes blending a natural light source from a window works with some additional fill light to bring any highlights or shadows into the shot. When using natural light – we usually use something to diffuse and soften the light so it’s not too direct on the subject.”

Get some work-in-progress shots

It can be easy to focus on getting the final plated-up food shot, but you miss out on some great opportunities for content along the way.

“If your photographer can set up the lighting early and then take the camera off to be able to capture some work-in-progress shots then why not! Make sure you capture some shots during the preparation and cooking process. It’s a great way to capture the story of your dish and highlight the freshness of your ingredients.”

Emphasise the natural beauty of the food

Think about what makes a dish delicious and then serve it in a way that flaunts that.

“There is nothing better than the crispy, golden skin on a roast turkey – so photograph the whole bird to highlight the crunchy skin, rather than slicing it up. If you’re photographing sausage rolls, capture the texture of the puff pastry to make your audience’s mouth water.”

Craft your story

The job of a food stylist and photographer isn’t just to make the food look delicious. It’s to bring it to life and to tell a story.

“Work your shot for the audience it is intended for. Are your audience into more home cooked food? If so, then you might be in a more homely setting with some plates on the side with some serving elements and a chair in the background with some natural light coming in.

Or does your audience prefer fine dining? If so, then you might create a perfect place setting and shoot the image from above to show the intricate details of the meal.”

Need the perfect space to shoot your next campaign or recipe book?

Contact Natasha for more details about our kitchen studio.

A tent in the woods at Kathmandu's hidden retreat

Experiential marketing: bringing brands to life

· Trends, Tricks of the trade

Over the past six months, the Keep Left team has brought more than 20 events and experiences to life, from topping out ceremonies for our property clients and hydrating guests with FIJI Water at Melbourne’s Diner en Blanc, to entertaining the public at park cinemas and playing host to happy campers at Kathmandu’s Hidden Retreat.

A tent in the woods at Kathmandu's hidden retreat

Experiential marketing is a great way to bring a brand to life, and with 65% of consumers stating that events help them to better understand a brand’s products or services, the benefits are clear.

Interested in finding out more? Check out our Head of Consumer Engagement Johanna Murray’s compelling case in B&T  for why brands should harness the power of experiential marketing.

Facebook and third-party data: what you need to know

· Tricks of the trade

You might have seen Facebook’s recent announcement about the sweeping changes they’re making to protect users’ privacy on their platform.

The move has come in response to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, where a British-based data analytics firm harvested data from more than 50 million Facebook profiles without permission. On the back of this, Facebook confirmed it will be removing access to all third-party data (Partner Categories) from Targeting and Measurement Partnerships.

This decision will impact Keep Left’s paid social clients, so we want to share an overview of what will be affected and when, and what we can expect to see happen over the coming months.Facebook removes access to third-party data

What is third party data?

At present, there are three kinds of data marketers can access on Facebook:

  1. First party data – data that businesses collect about their own customers or audience (e.g. from your database)
  2. Second party data – data that is collected from social platforms themselves (e.g. from your Facebook profile and search behaviour)
  3. Third party data – data collected by data providers or aggregators (e.g. from Experian, Quantium and Acxiom)

These data sets can be used individually or together to allow marketers to better reach specific audiences on social media, such as people living in a particular location or those with certain interests or behaviours.

What does Facebook’s decision mean?

Removing access to third party data means that it may become more difficult for brands to reach people in as targeted a way, and marketers will have to rely on first and second party data.  Given Facebook can change the rules at any point, our recommendation is that brands prioritise building out their first party data which they own and can leverage.

Facebook changes to third-party data changes targeted paid socialWhen will the decision come into effect?

Campaigns using categories built on data from EU countries will be unavailable from 25 May 2018. For those using categories built on data from outside the EU, Partner Categories will be unavailable from 1 October 2018.  To minimise disruption, Facebook have outlined a timeline for marketers to update their campaign targeting:

So, what happens now?

We expect an update from Facebook in the coming weeks with more information about the decision and other measures they are planning on taking to protect people’s information. In the meantime, Keep Left will be working closely with our paid social clients in preparation for when the changes come into effect, and are liaising with our third party data partners to see if there are other ways we can continue to work together.

If you are a Keep Left client and have any questions or concerns about how the decision to remove access to third-party data providers will affect you, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Lizzie Waley, Paid Social & Performance Manager at Keep Left

Building brand trust with explainer videos

· Tricks of the trade · , ,

Education and entertainment join forces

There comes a time in every business when you need to educate your customers about something that’s important to you. It could be a new product or service, a project you’re involved in, a position you’re taking a stance on, or even your organisation in general. Presenting this information in an easily digestible yet engaging way is where most businesses start to struggle.

Finding a concise way to communicate your value (and your values) is a powerful business asset, which is the main reason that most companies spend months, or even years, refining their elevator pitch. So how can you effectively communicate this information to potential customers?

The first thing to understand is customers are time-poor – they’re looking for succinct information about who you are, what you do and why they should be shopping with you. While your first instinct might be to kit out your website with a series of lengthy paragraphs detailing the intricacies of your offering, the reality is you need to communicate fast to keep potential customers on your page with a good mix of written and visual content.

Successfully educating your consumers means capturing their attention and helping them to understand your proposition, while keeping them engaged so they don’t click away. This is where explainer videos come in.

An explainer video uses storytelling to convey your message clearly and concisely, with the use of stimulating animation to hold their attention. Their short format and animated imagery can help to illustrate core messages effectively, with a greater level of information retention compared to text alone.

Take the video we made for the Australian Driverless Vehicles Initiative (ADVI). To unpack the mystifying topic of driverless cars and how Australia can position itself as a key player in the field, we created a visual story of ADVI and its reason for being: the progression of autonomous vehicle technology at an international level and the developments needed on Australian soil to help us stay at the forefront of this global movement. All this in under two minutes.

After watching the video, viewers are aware of the pace of progression in the field, the benefits of the technology and the eventual goals of ADVI, ultimately inspiring them to place their trust in the organisation.

Simply put, if consumers don’t understand your offering, they’ll find it difficult to develop trust in your brand. Excelling by nailing your messaging and demonstrating best practise communication tactics like explainer videos will establish your place as an industry leader, strengthening your reputation and ideally building brand equity.

Whether you’re a veteran of the trade or just finding your legs, effective storytelling is essential to communicate your value proposition to consumers. A great explainer video will make the perfect pitch, every time.

5 things every NFP needs to think about...

· Tricks of the trade · , ,

This article by Caroline Catterall originally appeared on Pro Bono Australia.

According to JBWere’s Cause Report (2016), there are more than 56,894 NFP organisations in Australia. That’s one NFP for every 422 individuals with around 10 new charities being established every business day.  Each is vying for attention and in most cases, the disposable income of businesses and consumers.  So how do you cut through in a cluttered market? Here are five reasons NFP’s need to think about content marketing.

1. PR may not be your silver bullet

A lot of NFPs turn to PR as their first port-of-call for raising awareness and ‘getting their story out there,’ and for good reason.  PR is comparatively inexpensive when compared to other forms of marketing, and can be an incredibly effective way of building empathy and an emotional connection with your audience.  The truth is when PR works, it works well.  The impact a well-positioned, on-message piece of editorial can deliver is second to none.  But what happens when you run out of news, want to deliver a more commercial message, or want complete control over the timing and delivery of your message?

2. You’ve hit the point of diminishing returns

Some NFPs will reach a point in their communications lifecycle where they hit the point of diminishing returns with PR. The first headline published about the brand was powerful and exciting, it brought the NFP to the surface of consumers’ awareness and created substantial value for the organisation. As you continue to flex the PR muscle however, the results can start to become less substantial. This can happen for a number of reasons. While it’s sometimes possible to ‘refresh’ a PR program and come up with new angles the media is more interested in, an NFP’s objectives might not always line up with the media’s agenda and this can throw your message off-track.  That’s why we advocate a combined earned and owned strategy, that combines PR with brand publishing and content marketing, to allow NFP clients to be more in control of their communications.

NFPs need content marketing - source https://personalexcellence.co/blog/law-of-diminishing-returns/

3. Keep two-hands on the wheel

A well-balanced ratio to keep in mind is 40/60.  For an emerging NFP that needs to sustain its profile but must also think and act commercially, we recommend 40% of the total budget be dedicated to earned media, and the remaining 60% to content creation and marketing.  Owned content can be used, reused, dressed up, broken into bite size pieces and circulated year-round. Through our work with Red Nose (formerly SIDS & Kids), we developed a suite of owned content assets that turned into an award-winning campaign. The content was pushed out via a public relations campaign, hosted on their website, used in eDMs, leveraged extensively across their social channels and broadcast for a number of months as a community service announcement.

4. It is a ‘must-have’ in your budget

Content is no longer a nice addition if you happen to have extra budget, it’s a highly consumed information source. Russell Sparkman of FusionSpark Media says that “non-profits have to make budgeting for content a priority when creating their budgets; the reality of the world we live in today is that content for advancing non-profit goals is as essential as oxygen is to breathing. It can’t be an afterthought or a task relegated to the when-we-can-afford-it shelf.”  According to Forbes, global Internet traffic from videos will make up 80% of all Internet traffic by 2019 and four times as many consumers would prefer to watch a video about a product or offering than read about it.

5. Be your own biggest advocate

But of course, there’s no point serving up your own content if it’s not going to hit the intended audience or get a reach that justifies the cost of producing it.  That’s why brands need to become their own publishers and start to look at their digital assets – namely their core website and any microsites – as vehicles to drive traffic, and social media platforms as the way to rally and recruit an audience, alongside SEO and search marketing.  Your social channels have the potential to reach prospective donors and advocate in the same way a media headline does.  Even better, combine the two with SEO and you might just find that silver bullet you were looking for.

Find out more about our work with not-for-profits across Australia, including St John AmbulanceRed Nose and Wesley Mission Victoria, or get in contact to see how we could work with your brand.

Is all publicity good publicity?

· Tricks of the trade · , ,

Brand management in a crisis.

If your brand has ever had a difficult run-in with the media, it’s hard to take an organisation seriously when they claim “there is no such thing as bad publicity”. Particularly when dealt with the wrong way, an organisation can receive terrible publicity that can have a detrimental impact on the brand and business.

The good, the bad and the ugly.

In the age of social media, bad news travels fast. A brand’s first response will always be the one people remember, and if this comes from a place of frazzled urgency, you can find yourself in strife. United Airlines received more bad publicity than it could have bargained for this year, but it was the initial justification for its actions that truly disgruntled the public.

On April 9th 2017, a passenger was forcibly dragged from an overbooked United Airlines flight after refusing to forfeit his seat for a staff member, losing his front teeth and becoming bloodied in the scuffle. This letter to United staff was released on the day of the incident:

“This situation was unfortunately compounded when one of the passengers we politely asked to deplane refused and it became necessary to contact Chicago Aviation Security Officers to help,” United CEO Oscar Munoz wrote. “Our employees followed established procedures for dealing with situations like this. While I deeply regret this situation arose, I also emphatically stand behind all of you, and I want to commend you for continuing to go above and beyond to ensure we fly right.”

It only took a day for the second letter to be released which refuted the actions taken and provided the deepest apologies to the passenger that was forcibly removed from the plane. Unfortunately, this was too little too late – the damage had been done.

bad publicity for united airlines makes headlines

A diamond in the rough.

It’s important to remember that it is possible to come back from condemnation. In late 2015, Airbnb came under fire with bad publicity when research revealing customers with “distinctively African-American names are 16% less likely to be accepted relative to identical guests with distinctively White names.” That data was only compounded by reports on social media from travellers who experienced that discrimination first-hand, as well as a lawsuit over such actions.

Acting as the true hero the brand seeks to portray, its CEO released this letter which took a profound stance on the issue:

Bias and discrimination have no place on Airbnb, and we have zero tolerance for them. Unfortunately, we have been slow to address these problems, and for this I am sorry. I take responsibility for any pain or frustration this has caused members of our community. We will not only make this right; we will work to set an example that other companies can follow.

And indeed it has. This branded indiscretion has resulted in Airbnb taking a stand against not only racial discrimination, but becoming a vocal advocate for marriage equality also.

Airbnb turning bad publicity into advocacy

Sorry shouldn’t be the hardest word.

To be clear, brands will always be vulnerable to bad publicity, but mastering your rise from the ashes could be what saves your name (and your neck). As Airbnb so humbly showed, admitting to your mistakes and apologising is a good start if there are no legal implications.

So, what can you do to prevent hordes of villagers chasing you with pitchforks?

Test potential scenarios and put your plan in writing. Pick your spokespeople, your channels and your approach, and review your plan regularly to ensure it’s up to date. This may seem menial, but when your team is in shock about the meteor coming their way, you’ll be glad to have something that was prepared on a calmer, sunnier day. Acknowledge the situation, apologise to the effected parties, state your values and outline your plan of attack moving forward.

Bad publicity doesn’t have to have the last word. Who knows, you may just come out better for it in the end.

Find out more about our work with consumer brands and corporate clients across Australia, or get in contact to see how we could work with your brand.

Embracing industry change

· Tricks of the trade · , ,

Top tips for the Retail Industry.

No matter what industry you work in, it’s likely you’re witnessing the impact that advances in technology have on your workplace, whether it’s on the way you work, the tools you work with, or the way you interact with your customers.

With each year that passes, businesses around the globe see their trajectories alter and even change course as they battle to keep up with the rapid development of technology and altering customer expectations. What was once the newest ‘must-have’ innovation becomes the expected standard, and something new takes its place.

The retail industry is no stranger to this pattern. With over a decade of experience in providing PR support to the retail and FMCG industries, our agency has seen first-hand how retail is being revolutionised by advances in tech and innovation. Today, consumers’ expectations of service are greater than ever.

Whether you’re comfortable with change or not, it’s an inevitable part of doing business. It keeps things fresh, but it’s also how you continue to learn, grow and ultimately, how you remain successful.

Top tips for the retail industry

Here are my top three reasons for why those in the retail industry should embrace change.

It challenges the status quo:

One of our core values as an agency is to push boundaries. Don’t be afraid to ask the question ‘why?’. That one word could lead to new ideas that may change the way you do business and measure your success, as well as impact your bottom line.

The rising trend of ‘retailtainment’ is case in point. Australian retailer General Pants has introduced interactive kiosks to their stores, giving consumers the chance to browse staff picks, add to the instore music playlist or even ask shoppers nationally for their opinions on pieces of clothing in real-time. Retailtainment takes into consideration the fact that shoppers are looking for more than something to spend their money on: they’re looking for an experience, and the experience you provide will be what sets you apart from your competitors.

This notion isn’t just limited to retail; the FMCG industry is a playground for those looking for innovative ways to refresh the customer experience. For example, we worked with Anchor Milk on a project which challenged the notion that ‘milk is milk’. By demonstrating how Anchor Milk’s product is made and educating consumers about why they should care about how their milk is made, consumers weren’t just buying the brand, they were experiencing it.

It forces you to adapt and remain relevant:

The truth is your business may be plodding along just fine with the same-old marketing strategy that keeps it afloat year on year. But with the retail landscape being disrupted by digital and technology at such a rapid rate, you need to adapt to change or risk stagnating and becoming irrelevant.

Omni-channel marketing is now the standard. Consumers expect retailers to have a digital presence and those who don’t are likely to lose customers to the convenience of their competitor’s offering. Over March, Melbourne’s fashion scene witnessed “Shop the Runway” at the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival (VAMFF), where consumers could instantly purchase the items they had just seen on the runway through VAMFF’s website and social channels. And the FMCG industry isn’t missing out on the action either. Fast-food company Dominos has integrated an ordering system into its Facebook page to reach consumers on the platform where they’re spending most of their time.

It brings opportunity:

The atmosphere of change can reinvigorate your staff and your business strategy if you’re up for the challenge. Be open to new technologies that can change the way you operate.

Today we have the incredible ability to take a close look at the digital footprint of our consumers. We have answers to the questions we always wanted to know about who our customers are, where they are and how they shop. With such a vast amount of data at our fingertips, there’s no excuse not to tailor your offering to suit their needs.

By that, I don’t mean personalising a mass marketing email with their name, but exploring how new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence can propel your business ahead of your competition. For example, you could use AI to automate key areas of your work, such as restocking, enabling you to consider factors such as the weather, purchase rates and consumer behaviour when predicting your stock needs. Powerful stuff!

Remember, everything changes. But change is exciting: when we change, we adapt and move forward. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how the retail industry grows and adapts to meet the new challenges 2017 presents.

Find out more about our work with consumer brands and corporate clients across Australia, or get in contact to see how we could work with your brand.