Communication and Marketing Strategy that Listens to DataBy Jan Hogewoning | Thu, 12/17/2020 - 09:53
Q: How did your company’s approach to strategic communication services help it adapt to the new normality?
A: We started our company 16 years ago with the objective of approaching our clients with the logic of "what is the fastest way to achieve their objectives". Our approach developed into a strategy format that we call SEAM, which stands for strategy, execute, amplify and measure. Once we measure the impact of our approach, we go back to the beginning and improve it. Classic PR agencies tend to be limited to particular services like corporate communications and media relations. We try to provide a holistic approach.
We have four pillars, which are supported by a range of services. The pillars are public relations, digital strategy, creative experiences and influencer marketing. We allow ourselves to chop and change between pillars and services to find the fastest way to the objectives of our clients. If a classic PR strategy does not work, we can blend in digital and influencer marketing. We can add experts in each area at any moment. That seamless movement between different areas is what helped us emerge stronger in this pandemic, producing many new opportunities. It also reflects in how we have been able to freely redirect liquidity, our own resources and those of our clients to areas where we could have more impact. One growth area is influencer marketing, an area in which we are pioneers in Latin America. We apply an integrated approach with amazing tech to run our influencers network. This has allowed us to pick up a great deal of traditional advertising business. Overall, this pandemic has definitely awakened companies to the importance of innovating their digital PR space.
Q: What particular tools do you apply to understand the impact of your strategies?
A: Deep analytics is one of the key drivers. For example, analytics for social media, pull-through, engagement or even sales in many cases. We have worked with a couple of startups in the last few years to analyze the content we produce. This can be Google analytics for a website or analytics applied to content marketing, including story hooks, bylines or white papers that we produce. We know what audiences like and do not like and we reapply that data to our content management to build an efficient and continuously positive performance. At this point, you get to what some perceive as a terrifying idea: performance PR. You use real metrics instead of soft metrics when applying PR. However, it really allows you to understand more accurately where you need to focus on the marketing ecosystem to drive sales or to be recognized by an audience.
Q: What is your working relationship with influencers?
A: It is based on contractual mutual respect. We run a lot of analytics around influencers to ensure that they are on point, strategically focused on the targets that are important to brands. It is an enormous process to run through to match influencers perfectly with audiences and brands. The degree to which they are directed depends on the person. Every influencer needs something different. The support can be from 0 to 100 percent. Sometimes we help influencers build content. Often, they are great content creators and we need to run with their creativity. Also, some brands are more open to full creative control for influences, while others prefer a more hands-on management approach.
Q: How much more potential is there for influencers?
A: I think it is still a fledgling industry, with a great deal of opportunity. Look at how new platforms can come in and within 18 months dominate the market, like TikTok. That opens up a whole group of influencers. There is a very distinctive way to market through that channel, given its specific tech abilities and audience. Actually, Gen Z is normally not easy to get to quickly. You are not going to be effective through printed media or TV media channels. Now, you have a platform with a captive audience that is incredibly strong in building their own engaging and entertaining content. On top of this, the pay per play promotion model is growing rapidly and still has a lot of potential in Mexico. This multiplies the opportunity for direct performance marketing through non-brand platforms. For our company, I would expect double to triple-digit growth in influencer marketing over the next few years.
Q: How do you diversify your reach on social media?
A: There are different channels for different demographics. However, if we look at older generations, they are using a lot of social media today. For particular segments, for example LGTBQ+, there are channels that are more ad hoc. When you segment everything, you get a kind of 3D ecosystem. You can see the channel, the influencer and which specific demographic they reach. With our technology, we can run 20, 30, 400 or 600 influencers at a time and review the sales in each channel to see which ones are having an effect on the business. The whole thing turns into performance marketing with a content marketing cloak around it. You can get instant results.
Q: How do influencers maintain their impact?
A: An influencer needs to be honest and come across as real to their audience. They should not flip between ideas, channels or audiences. If so, they do not build a solid relationship with an audience. For brands, it is important that influencers represent the value of the brand. It is very easy to spot if someone is doing it just for the money. The sort of message that an influencer communicates, in the framework of the brand’s values, is what will work for the final audience. We see many brands using amazing influencers but they are misaligned. You see it in the feedback. The feedback will have nothing to do with the promotion.
Q: How do you maintain transparency in social media advertisement?
A: Colombia recently passed regulation that will provide more transparency for paid advertising in this channel. The US has it. Chile and Argentina have passed legislation. In Mexico, it is coming. Especially as we head into the political campaign season in Mexico, people are not going to hold political rallies, with thousands of people coming together. There will be a greater use of influencers. There will be pressure to ensure that people understand somebody is paying a person to spread a message. With traditional advertising, you knew it was an advertisement, like a billboard or a magazine. Legislation can ensure that the viewer gets an indication that this is advertising. On the other hand, in the case of organic influencer marketing, there is no need for that. This is achieved by the skill of an agency and their relationships.
Q: In which sectors are you present?
A: We run eight macro groups within the agency. They are: B2B, which applies to primarily software-as-a-service (SaaS) clients; B2C technology, which are major electronic consumer groups; luxury, where we have high-end fashion, luxury products and luxury automotive products; tourism, which goes from very high-end luxury to tourism SaaS platforms; consumer groups, which are fast-moving consumer goods companies (FMCG); sports and entertainment; corporate communications, which are mainly big blue chip businesses looking for corporate reputation and crisis management; and finally, beauty, which is growing very quickly in Latin America, headed by Brazil and Mexico, followed by Colombia. Around these sectors, we build group services, such as influencer marketing, PR, strategy, performance marketing, social media and content marketing.
Q: Is there a new sector you are looking at entering?
A: We are just starting a new group that is primarily focused on pharmaceutical companies. This sector has many regulatory frameworks. This complicates communication, which I think has slowed down innovation in communication in this sector. It desperately needs this, particularly considering that it will be a leading sector in the next eight months, at least with the distribution of the vaccine and the ongoing pandemic. We are not starting this group in Mexico but in the rest of Latin America. The first launch was on Dec. 1, after having won a new client. We will see what lessons we learn from this and apply them to future projects in this sector.
Q: Would you say honesty in public relations is more important now than ever?
A: Honesty has always been important. But over time, our population does become more suspicious. Honesty and transparency go hand-in-hand. With the free flow of information, people have increased access and far more ability to double check information and spot inconsistencies in communication. We see it a lot in our client industries. There is a demand for transparency of the supply chain. Four years ago, this was something we never thought about. Now, it is a key part of communication. The CEO may be far away from the supply chain activities but needs to be desperately on top of them. There are so many windows for weakness and lack of transparency. There are certain shock tactics used by certain groups against certain businesses. The best way to counter all this is to have transparency and honesty as principal values of the business. This forces companies to make sure every single section of the business is looked after. I also believe many brands need to humanize themselves and put people forward. They should show that they are run by people, for people.
Q: What traditional marketing channels are here for the long term?
A: I do not think we will lose any channels. Some will see constriction, others growth at certain points. Everything moves in cycles. For example, privately-run independent magazines are booming now because people are looking for a tangible asset. We want to see beautiful editorial and amazing op-eds. These magazines have teams of people around the world. The industry is seeing a resurgence. Maybe the size will change because not all material needs to be printed; however, there are still a myriad of printed titles that people are still looking for because of their reputation and perceived honesty.
Another Company is a strategic communications company with presence across Latin America. The company provides services centered around the pillars of public relations, digital strategy, creative experiences and influencer marketing.