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Some Personal News
#33 A content playbook that drives spend efficiencies & Ad spend + measurement → the renaissance in Market Mix Modeling (MMM)
Happy Sunday. To those I spoke to this week or spent time with in-person - thank you. A very warm welcome to all the new subscribers. I’m thrilled to have you as readers and truly appreciate your feedback and support.
Let’s dig in.
A Content Playbook of Sorts.
Regardless of your org size, the one thing everyone needs more of is content. It’s spun incredible software companies up, agencies, networks, and more. On top of that, you need the distribution behind it. Good content that gets seen by no one isn’t worth anything. The $20k photo shoot that ended up with 33 likes on Instagram stings.
Given how content distribution channels are changing (moving to an AI-curated content feed vs. a “following” feed), content either HITS or it gets almost no distribution. Of course, this won't affect channels like email, SMS, influencers, and anywhere you’re paying for placement. If anything, the ads engine should become more powerful and targeted for brands. Once someone comments on how much they loved a GRWM video (“Get Ready With Me”, a popular TikTok trend where people show off their outfits, talk about life, etc while they get ready on camera), you’ll see the Kate Spade ad with the green purse mentioned in the GRWM video, as an ad to purchase.
Ok, I’m getting too excited about the future intersection of advertising and AI, but let’s get back to content… So with all these changes happening, and also just naturally being stingy about unnecessary spending, I often find myself tapping the same playbook over and over. The plays here have stood me in very good stead, especially when looking to be efficient with where you spend your cash. I’m going (to try) explain the pieces of it, and the context or thinking behind each piece.
Why this is beneficial:
More content overall means more signals of what works and what doesn’t.
Content can also help drive awareness of your mission, making ads work more efficiently.
Donors get excited to talk about your brand because you’re “cool” when you’re a brand that participates in the conversation. “Conversation” on social channels just means existing with something relevant to share.
You’re building brand equity over time, at a low cost.
Here are the pieces that make up the full strategy:
Hire a Press Secretary for your brand.
If you can, you should. In my mind, short-form content creators are like having a Press Secretary for your brand. This is someone who specializes in the media format relevant to their “boss” aka the brand. In this case, it’s someone who specializes in vertical, algorithm-driven, short-form content to be distributed across channels like TikTok, Instagram Reels, YouTube Shorts, Facebook Stories, etc. Ideally, this person can film 1 to 2 videos per day and publish these, understanding from the last one, how to make the next post even stronger.
Generally, this person can also handle producing and posting on social media channels that you need to be on, and build your relationships with external-facing influencers and content creators.
The beauty of having an internal content creator is you’re able to produce a higher volume of content, have the analytics and content monitored by the same person, and get new content in a matter of hours, not weeks. Someone on the inside also has their ears close to donor service issues. This is how I got to the thought that a short-form content creator is like having an internal press secretary at your brand.
Build your own creator network.
Regardless of IF you have an internal creator on your payroll, everyone should have a network of content creators they can email or text for work, when needed. Disclaimer here: you’ll have to build genuine relationships with creators for this to work.
Write an email to creators you think would be a good fit, and include:
who you are
what’s your mission
why they might get behind it
what’s in it for them
ask if they’d like to learn more
For the ones who respond, set up a phone call and let them know you’re looking to build a relationship so that when you have content needs that arise, you can rely on them. In the meantime, try to do things that solely benefit them: make introductions to friends who might need them right away or have an opportunity for them, send them the welcome pack you reserve for new monthly donors… From this initial engagement you want to establish:
What is the cost of creating content with them?
What does the content look like and where can you use it, as the brand?
What is the timeline they prefer to work on, and what is an accelerated timeline like, if needed?
Creators are not just influencers without a following, they’re almost any artist that contributes toward the creative process for your org.
Find a good designer to use.
You could consider designers to be creators, but I’m going to segment this out. I’m not talking about a fashion designer here, but more-so a web designer or a graphic designer. Having a good graphic designer can make or break how your brand is perceived, and it’s a role you do not want to slack on. A good designer is the difference between RX Bar’s business failing and selling for $600 million. Image below courtesy of this great Medium article that digs into design and branding.
Talented design isn’t cheap but explore overseas. Design talent overseas is phenomenal. I’ve hired A+ level design talent in countries like Serbia, Ukraine, Brazil, Argentina, Dubai, and India. Sure, you might spend more time explaining things, giving context, or working on tweaking the design, but the work is still amazing, and more affordable.
This designer or design agency can be leveraged across email, website, presentation decks, iconography, illustrations and graphics. It’s an investment worth making.
Events are underrated for content creation. There are three ways to approach events:
Make it experiential. If you have something experiential, whether it’s a tent, a stage, a photo booth, a fitting room, etc., people will create their own content. You just have to setup the environment to be ripe for content creation — good lighting, good props, good story, etc. You set that up, everyone else will naturally create content.
If you have products, invite people you want to be there and have them try them out. Your goal in doing this might be to get certain people with the right shot of testing out your product.
Be the sponsor for something else where your product or mission fits. Anywhere you want to advertise, you need a publisher. The publisher creates the content or experience and brings the audience. So in this case, figure out what event you can co-create with someone and make sure you’re the sole sponsor of the event.
Events can seem costly, but $10k for the amount of content and awareness you’ll drive can be absolutely worth it.
Use online design tools.
There are tons of tools online to create content, use them. Dabble into companies like Canva and Flair, or watch some YouTube videos on Figma, and spend 3 hours to learn how Figma can be leveraged. Learning Figma is one of the best returns on time I had in 2022.
Reinvest back into your content infrastructure.
As you grow, the goal isn’t to continue just working with a bootstrapped budget with your content, but rather to keep the same principals and efficiency. Keep leveling up and looking to processes that give you more flexibility to scale at greater velocity.
Ads and MMM.
Adspend is proving rather resilient - despite the economic woes. I read this interesting quote in the WSJ from Vincent Létang (EVP global market intelligence at Magna) who authored Magna’s quarterly forecast this week:
“We were always expecting more slowdown in ’23 with tepid macroeconomic expectations… If it was 20 years ago, in [this] economic climate, we would probably expect advertising spending to fall, but we don’t…because there are organic growth factors to put against this macroeconomic environment that is uncertain indeed… The organic drivers that boosted the ad market in 2021 and the first half of 2022 are still around and mitigating the impact of stressful economic signals.”
Létang shared that drivers of spend growth into advertising include the rise of streaming, ad-supported video and rising investment in consumer-facing businesses that have been offering advertisers ways to reach consumers using retailer data, a topic we’ve covered in SPN a number of times.
I think it's now clear the talk of an ad downturn was used by Meta and others to cover up the impact of ATT (Apple’s opt-in privacy framework) on their ad revenue.
A key factor in ad spend is measurement - and a new HBR report covers the renaissance in Marketing Mix Modeling (MMM). As Apple limits what advertisers are able to track, deterministic user-level measurement of digital advertising effects will become increasingly difficult. MMMs have a specific advantage: They're able to produce dependable measurement and insight purely from natural variation in aggregate data, without requiring user-level information.
As we’ve covered before, this approach is now back in favo(u)r and used by many smart brands. HBR have been experimenting with calibration and find it has a significant improvement. Lots to learn here.
In other ad-related thinking, as more and more people wake up to the value of creative and its impact on effectiveness, the divide so common between media and creative is being questioned. The smart people at Essence Mediacom are in the vanguard trying to solve for this.
P.S. Execution without Strategy is Noise.
— What’s the hypothesis? (plan)
— What do you want to achieve? (goal)
— Who can give it to you? (audience)
— What do they want/need? (problem/solution)
— What should we tell them? (messaging)
— What do we measure? (kpis)
Good Reads this Week
Research firm Disqo has a new report on Driving TikTok Ad Effectiveness.
Media buyers want more Netflix, but want to pay less.
Interest in “free ad-supported streaming TV” (FAST) is growing, making this new guide to FAST useful.
Walmart generated $2.7bn of ad revenue last year and plans to make more, at much higher margins than the core business.
75% of marketers expect to spend more on TikTok even as a ban looms.
The future of credit card payments and their charges.
The UK has a new tech strategy policy document.
Jobs and Opps
Battersea Dogs Home (UK), Head of Digital & Innovation (maternity cover)
Mozilla, Director of Digital Engagement
Save the Children International, Medical Innovation & Digital Health Lead
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