Study: Content marketing investment on the rise

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A recent study 2015 Content Marketing Survey by content marketing agency Castleford states that the amount of marketers committed to content marketing is increasing. According to their results 65% (compared to 48% one year ago) of marketers want to boost their content marketing next financial year. Their plans is to invest more in time and resources.

Even more, 97% of participants of the survey said they will increase or retain their current level of investment. And the respondents also face the support of their C-level executives. Of the responding marketers 76% replied their C-level executives viewed content marketing „quite positively“ or „very positively“.

Obviously, there are also some challenges involved in content marketing creation wit time (45%) and budget (29%) being the biggest problem. Just, 3% that mentioned their C-level buy-in is their biggest challenge to content marketing will be probably persuaded over time, we think.

In terms of content marketing tactics the study shows that social media (81%) is still the favorite online marketing tactics in this field. However, the biggest growth opportunity shows video marketing and paid promotion of content for the next year. 61% are already using video marketing, (increase of 13% compared to last year). This is probably also driven by the main players Facebook and Google.

The variety of content marketing is also growing though. Almost every second marketer said that they use five or more different online marketing channels (45%).

Although Castleford director Rob Cleeve is confident with the development of content marketing, he also makes clear that marketers need to deliver results with it as well: „In my experience, content marketing is claiming an increasingly large share of overall marketing budgets, which is going to mean more pressure to show how it’s benefiting the bottom line.“

Spot On!
Content marketing definitely has changed the advertising industry drastically. However, the main challenges involved are the appropriate use of data with content to drive the right story in the right context to the right user at the right time. Here we see massive problems for many marketers still in our work with customers. Post-it recently explained it nicely in a video that leverages their banner and ask many question in terms of how retargeting actually kills good content marketing in terms in the example of banner ads.

The infographic of the study carries all relevant results of the Castleford study.


Social Selling 2015: The year of redefined engagement

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Selling through social media has always been a challenging business. However, all brands and companies we have spoken to in 2014 wanted to turn around Social Media from a brand reputation channel into a sales opportunity touchpoint.

Obviously, many of the companies had already failed. Most of them as they were either too greedy, or just not prepared to go in a bar without expecting someone to sell them a drink – or respectively, to buy their products and services after the brands or companies have posted their first status updates. In my eyes, it is time to shift expectations and start anew. 2015 should not be your year of sales disappointment, it should become your year of redefined engagement.

All companies aim for the same goal. Customer engagement is what companies are waiting, hoping and praying for. Thus, they pump out tons of content pieces from their latest brand sponsoring activities to the best white papers and case studies they can offer until they cannot find any content piece in their PR or marketing repository that has not been shared across the globe. And by accelerating the content via Facebook, Twitter and the likes, they expect their KPIs to become real.

And then, the guys from SocialFlow conducted a study in summer last year. analyzed organic posts with almost 1.5 billion social actions, showing them 99 percent of those updates on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ create little to no engagement at all. Did brands use engagement the wrong way? Where their tactics bad? And if so, what were the obstacles they did not obey?

Engagement Facebook 2014

Let’s look at the following three tactical approaches. Ask yourself if you really follow the three rules of engagement.

1. Engagement: Think cross-department, cross-partners and cross-employee

Companies still tend to be structured in silos. Internal politics, department thinking and career ambitions rule out what could be replaced by community engagement, employee engagement initiatives or engagement incentive plans. Still, most responsible managers don’t know or forget how networking inside the company and with all external forces like resellers, retailers and partners might might leverage selling opportunities.

Now, whether it is limited digital capabilities of employees or the HR department that is often only involved in social media in terms of setting up social media guidelines, companies should start realitzing that their social media manager is not the company’s silver bullet. HR and marketing need to align forces and work closer together: Culture, relationship building and trust creation is not only a sales business which got nicely highlighted by a study from Altimeter at the end of 2014.

Setting up processes, programs and platforms that work towards a common goal, that get updated by various minds, by different perspectives and manyfold views attracts the engagement of more customers. The formula is easy and proven: More brains can be in more conversations and generate more engagement.

2. Engagement: Learn cross-platform, from „free-meal“ to „pay-for-play“

Companies and brands seem to accept that social media is not a „free-meal“ any longer by investing in consulting companies to help transforming their social media efforts into social selling enagement. Facebook is leading in driving engagement to brands according to Simply Measured’s 2014 Facebook Study which analyzed the Interbrand Top 100 Global. Photos accounting for 77% of total engagement, and link usage to around 16%.

However, brands still haven’t respected the fact that getting people to listen and read their marketing messages by posting in social media is changing dramatically. When Facebook turns the algorithm into „less promotional“ this year, companies need to start redefining how they approach their customers more subtile. Even if they will be addressing them with building clusters (or circles), contacting them via the „@name“ phenomenon or hashtags. The wording needs tob e chosen carefully, and we can be sure other networks will follow that example.

Thus, the next big thing will be the shift from investing in traditional media to spending more money in platforms that leverage social networking engagement. Products like the LinkedIn Sales Navigator or individual targeting through the combination of data analytics and marketing services, will become the new sales kid in town. Where marketing and media decision makers have invested in nebulous target-group definitions, social networks can cluster target-groups by their individual interest in content, in pictures or in videos.

The only shame is that smart data (and especially media and sales data exchange) across platforms does not work yet. So, banners and sponsored posts will continue to haunt customers although they have already bought a product or service a banner promotes to them. Clever managers invest in blogger programs, in brand advocates and loyalty programs to drive up and cross-selling opportunities. Don’t just think about content!

3. Engagement: Understand cross-quality values

Just to make this clear from the beginning: A LIKE is not only a LIKE, like a Retweet, Repin or Reblog is not just a meaninglesss interaction of some lazy engagement. In many seminars, we see marketers that still center their KPIs around quantitative engagement figures while under-estimating the chances that are covered behind such „automated“ customer interactions: joy, interest, passion, emotions, etc..

Clever sales people use such quantitative engagements for profiling their customers’ habits, experiences and interests in their social CRM database or sales management systems. They value every single customer engagement as they know when to turn quantitative into qualitative engagement, and how to turn it to their favor in meetings, calls and conversations. Knowing that a client has liked a shared golf or football video can be the start of a long-term relationship and open up doors for introductions to others.

Customers will be happy if they get good content to share with their own peers and community. They appreciate the dedication (seasonal content), commitment (consistency of service) and the quality of engagement (high interactivity) that brand accounts offer to them according to a study by the Engagment Labs. Appreciation, well-understood from customers and companies, is the key to social media engagement.

Spot On!
The link between customer engagement and employee engagement was not only proven in a study by Answers Corporation lately. In many examples with customers and experts have we experienced that social media engagement is not rocket-science, however the process of setting it up plus using and finding the right technology is a challenge. Still, the rules of engagement are changing in social media, especially in social networks. Facebook is the former RSS feed, just with the difference that you can sponsor it now. Youtube is the new search engine. It’s 2015! Redefine your engagement mindset!

State of Marketing 2014 Report: Social Media and Video Ads up, Mobile down, Programmatic low at 1%

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Compared to some previous study, this years CMO Council’s „State of Marketing“ (sponsored by NetBase and Infor) shows that confidence to be a trusted source for the C-level is back with marketers. The online study that asked 525 global marketers in the first quarter 2014 shows that 69% of senior marketers see themselves as a trusted, strategic member of the C-suite and/or are increasing their credibility with the main business decision makers inside their companies. Furthermore, 81% of senior marketers responded that they’re confident to meet management expectations and goals for top-line revenue growth and market share in the next 12 months.

„The level of confidence and optimism is very high. We are seeing the CMO role being elevated to a much larger degree.“ Donovan Neale-May, Executive Director, CMO Council

From a budget perspective, the main areas of marketing spending growth for this year will be social advertising (71%), online video (71%), social engagement campaigns (69%), retargeting (67%) and search engine marketing (66%). However, mobile will go down in the attention of marketing spendings this year. Only 62% said they plan to increases and just 25% project increases of over 5% for 2014. 45% said they expect no change for mobile banners. The report makes no commments on reasons for this stagnating mobile budget growth. In general, 54% of marketers plan to increase their marketing budgets over the next 12 months, 27% will keep budgets stable. The most funding will go into new products and program launches (54%), corporate branding and identity building (53%), lead generation and qualification (50%), and customer retention and monetization (44%).

State of Marketing 2014 What tactics is most effective

When asked to identify where marketers will allocate marketing budget across

From an operational and process point of view 12% of the responding marketers said they will invest in product marketing, 12% said in strategy and branding, almost 7% in marketing and planning, 7% in sales and lead management, and 5% in market research, among other areas. It seems that programmatic buying has still not reached the marketing department. Only 1% sees programmatic advertising technology systems an interesting topic to invest in. Maybe they just do not have the right arguments for their C-Suite on programmatic yet.

The senior management expects from their CMOs over the next 12 months to drive top-line growth (56%), grow or retain market share (52%), better define the brand and value proposition (44%), and further customer insights and analytics (37%). As the leading areas of responsibility the marketers see for themselves strategic planning and forecasting (74%), branding (71%), digital (68%), budgeting and mix modeling (68%) and market research (67%). from a C-level perspective the marketers state that their main tasks from the business leaders are driving top-line growth (56%); growing or retaining market share (52%); better defining the brand and value proposition (44%); and furthering customer insights and analytics (37%).

Spot On!
The challenge for marketers as of the cloud technology evolution is to connect with other departments inside the company. Interesting to see from the report to which people marketers are reaching out these days for partnerships. The marketers responded that the CFO (58%), CIO (53%) and chief sales officer (51%) are their main three touchpoints inside the organization to form partnerships with.

State of Marketing 2014 Collaboration

The report also states that 55% of marketers want to hire in 2014. Their main focus of reecruiting people or getting knowledge will be on customer analytics (40%), social media (36%) and content development (27%). Interestingly enough, a trend that we also experience with our clients is that B2B marketers (60%) are very active finding new staff. Their main interest is in people on topics like customer analytics (33%), product marketing support (33%), content development (32%) and social media (32%).

Adobe Summit 2014: Flashback in Tweets

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Adobe Summit 2014Sometimes when I travel to speak or to moderate at events, I have no idea what I can expect from the stages, the audience, the speakers and their input. Sometimes you fly home disappointed as the news were old, the stories not exciting, the slides were shabby or even impossible for the audience to read. And not often you have a long lasting experience that will change the way you experience the digital (marketing) world. Adobe’s Summit 2014 has proven to become an outstanding event experience, and I am sure the following stories will stay in my mind for a long, long time.

Let me summarize the main messages of the event „Reinvent marketing“ with the following five tweets…

Not often tweets can stand on their own. This tweet has a message that marketer need to obey in order to fullfil the message of the event and justify their position in the company. Marketers don’t need to glorify their brand through advertising. They should simply enable consumers to tell the brand stories from their own perspective. „Storytelling is not story yelling!“ as Gaston Legorburu, Chief Creative Officer at SapientNitro puts it.

Adobe Summit 2014 Gaston SapientNitro

When you hear all the opportunities about big data and see what companies like Adobe can do, it makes you think and wonder what these institutions will do with it – no matter what (EU) regulations we will have in the future.

Adobe Summit 2014 Adobe Values

The feedback from Rod Banner made me think: „I feel pretty sure they won’t. Not even intentionally. It’ll just happen. Remember, „Knowledge is Power“. And the answer from Twitter user Corticelli (whoever you are) seems to support Rod’s and my view: „oh, they will stalk and spam. And ruin that shiny technology fur the rest of us … #AdobeSummit“. Let’s hope the three of us are wrong with our slightly pessimistic view.

Having had the Head of Internet Office from the Vatican at the event was definitely surprising, hearing him speak was like meeting the Pope on stage. His gesture, his facial expression and his words were famous even before they were even spoken out. When Monsigneur Lucio Ruiz collected his words together to frame them in a picture of words that not many people on earth can paraphrase, people started smiling, applauding and laughing. Laughing, not because there was no meaning in them but just being spot on. So he said about the Pope: „His words might differ. The message is always the same!“

Adobe Summit 2014 Ruiz Vatican

Definitely the most inspiring and touching story on starting anew came from Kurt Yaeger. The well-known actor from the American TV series „Sons of Anarchy“ lost part of his left leg on a motorcycle accident in 2006. When the accident happened, he was a BMX professional and the doctor told him that with or without his leg he will only have a max. 20% chance to survive. Although it will kill his career as a bike pro, he did not have to think long to decide what to do. Sometimes, you just don’t have to wait long to stop a routine or a habit.

Adobe Summit 2014 Kurt Yaeger

Personal note
I remember when my son got meningitis in Greece. He asked me to stop smoking that day. I told him while throwing the new pack of cigarettes in the bin: „You get well again soon. And I stop smoking now.“ I have never touched a cigarette again, and that was over eight years ago. And, I will never do it again.

When you get invited to a panel on the future of marketing, it makes you think whether you really know more than the rest of the selected media audience.

Looking back, I have seen more or less all of them taking notes and starting discussions. And, when the Q&A session started, you could feel that this round could have been interesting for a wider audience, not only for the media. But who knows. Adobe reinvents their marketing. And maybe you can also discuss with us about the future of marketing at the next digital or Adobe event.

Report: Benchmarking digital banner performance; which formats work best

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A recent benchmark report by Pointroll based on the analysis of over 100 billion ad impressions in 2013 states that bigger banner ads perform better in digital advertising campaigns. The bigger ad formats, like the Rising Star, which was introduced by the IAB in 2012 has a 70% click-through rate (CTR) than smaller traditional banner formats.

Furthermore, the interaction rate of the Rising Star banners showed a significantly higher average interaction rate. While the Rising Star formats came in at 1.98%, traditional formats just achieved 1.08%. The video completion rate also performed better with 53.44% finishing to watch the video full length whereas the traditional formats came in almost 10% lower.

Pointroll Rising Star Performance 2014

Although in-stream ads are critically discussed on their performance at all digital events, the report shows that in-stream video ads delivered a 4.5x higher CTR on average than their Flash ads competitors. Moreover, they achieve a 2.7X higher CTR when compared with rich media ads. The later when carrying video content showed a 22% higher average CTR compared with those rich media ads without video.

Pointroll CTR by Ad format 2014

Interestingly enough, the report shows that longer videos performed better than shorter ones. The 30-second video ads got 55% more clicks on average than 15-second video ads. However, the 15-second videos had only a 6% higher completion rate than 30-second spots.

Pointroll 15 to 30 seconds video banner 2014

One of the main problems is that just 60.4% of the delivered and analyzed impressions of the report were „viewable“ according to the IAB standards. The viewability rates were different by vertical. The employment and sports media outlets delivered the highest rate (72.6%). The community publishers performed at the end of the publishers (58.4%).

Study: What B2B buyers expect to see on vendor websites

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Is it really still the phone number and the email address? Well, at least contact information should be easily accessible on B2B vendor websites. This is the main finding of a recent report from Dianna Huff and KoMarketing Associates.

The study, based on a survey of 175 B2B buyers, states that the majority of B2B buyers (68%) find the vendor’s address and contact information is mission critical information. Thus, 55% make clear they’ll leave the website if it isn’t accessible. For most B2B buyers (81%) want to contact vendors via email in the first place, phone comes in second place (58%). Furthermore, it is not only about accessibility. Credibility of a vendor’s website establishes for 51% of the respondents when contact or about information is displayed.

Huff:koMarketing 2014 - Content Assets Credibility

From a content perspective, 43% of buyers see pricing as a „must have“ content on vendor websites. Having worked with different b2b vendors in the last years, we know that the challenge for them is the indirect sales when partners have different levels of pricing models that often cannot be displayed public; however separate logins can handle that challenge.

90% of buyers expect to see product/services information on vendor websites. They also want to see about/company information (61%), marketing collateral (37%), and testimonials (36%). Although social media becomes more impact in our daily business, only 24% try to find social media add-ons (24%) or look for blogs (22%).

Huff:koMarketing 2014 - Website Info People want to see

Spot On!
Although the contact form is the most common way to get in touch with the vendor, only 39% like to use it. This is critical as buyers usually do not take too much time to stay on vendor websites.

Especially when getting bored or when they click out of a website, buyers tend to leave. Another mismatch that makes people leave is when video or audio plays automatically (93%). Animated ads, like crawling banners or pop-ups are also a NoGo for 88%, and a bad positioning about company offers makes 83% move to the competitor sites.

Native Advertising: Will these brands turn the advertising industry around?

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Last year, I had the pleasure to announce this gentleman for one of the main dmexco stage panels. And I can tell you, it was not fun to complement him to go off stage when their speaking time was up. Terence Kawaja is a funny character and great speaker, and he doesn’t like being stopped talking. Now, the investment banker and founder of LUMA Partners introduced his latest chart of the Lumascapes which will define a new status quo in the advertising industry.

After their numerous Lumascapes on search, display, video, mobile, social commerce, and so on, this time we get to see their perception world of native advertising. Although the definition on native advertising is still evolving and may seem some kind of „rough in barriers“ and not very much detailed, it is making it’s way through the brand campaigns of companies. Not even the IAB playbook on native advertising gives us a clear definition on what exactly native advertising is, and how it differs from content marketing, branded content, or even how it can be located against approaches like story advertising.

To the guys of Business Insider, Kawaja said about his latest version…

„Given how consumers ignore banner ads, these new consumer – friendly formats are proving to be the engine for how marketers can engage audiences, especially in social and mobile contexts.“

Let’s hope he his right with his perception. I realized some brands of emerging companies are missing in the chart, maybe as it is an American view, maybe because we are often getting invites to the latest new start-up in this field, maybe as we see the world a bit different. Still, Kawaja and his team have done a good job again. Let’s hope he is joining dmexco 2014 again.

Lumascape Native Advertising

Big Data Opportunities (Infographic)

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We discussed this topic in many panels at dmexco this year, and in the last couple of years I assume not many buzz words have made their way through so many blogs and articles: Big Data. Some see the value of it in measurement and analytics for marketing purposes. Others try to identify new potential and hire Corporate Data Scientists for their web strategy to leverage the potential of unstructured data. And some are still on their way to understand how their data can be embraced to exchange with the data of some partner or even their clients.

The topic Big Data will stay. Just look how much data is generated daily: 2,5 Exabyte. A number that doubles every year according to an infographic the guys from Elexio have put together. It illustrates the potential for companies and how Big Data might generate bigger opportunities in several sectors. Especially, in retail or e-commerce where Big Data let’s brands analyze customer behavior and deliver more personalized messages in order to create an exciting user experience, more engagement, and sure i the end more sales. However, sometimes you wonder if they are doing it right.

As Big Data also let’s us analyze offline data, some clever marketers might combine those with online data to get a clearer view of consumer activity. On the one hand, this might be good as it keeps them from delivering the wrong banner or engagement outdoor advertisement and content to the wrong customer. On the other hand, there might be people arguing that Big Data is still in its infancy as long as companies cannot extract critical and unstructured data from the valuable data that creates a new customer journey experience.

The main challenge will be how we bring Big Data and security together in the future. Consumers get stressed these days as they realize that promotion banners and branded content are following them across channels – with products and services which are often not wanted, or already bought. But how can companies deliver a seamless customer experience? How can they make use of Big Data that boosts their lead generation or sales numbers while still showing careful approach that consumers appreciate?

With all the social media sharing and curating of content via social networks and their buttons, does it really make sense talking about Big Data and security? Or, do we need organizations that audit how companies handle customer data? What rules do companies and brands need to obey to enable a social and secure shopping experience? Many questions that we will discuss on a panel at the ChapmanBlack „Future of Digital“ event in Berlin next week. Sure, I will change those afterwards…

Please find the infographic of Elexio with latest insights into the new opportunities that Big Data can offer to brands and companies.

Big Data Infographic Cloud

dmexco 2013 – Flashback in Tweets & Quotes

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dmexco 2013 Women Leadership Paneldmexco 2013 is over.

The growth trend of the digital marketing show is impressive and continues to write a promising history.
Visitors: 26.300 – increase by 16% compared to 2012
Exhibitors: 742 – means over 164 exhibitors more than 2012
International attendance: approx. 25% of visitors and of exhibitors
Satisfied visitors: More than 80% were happy with the event and exhibitor presentations

Future of Digital Marketing
1. „The era of digital marketing is over. It’s almost dead. It’s now just brand building.“ Marc Pritchard, P&G (Tweet by Armando Alves) – Watch Closing Keynote Day 1

Future of the Moment
2. „Twitter is a reflection of our individual and shared moments, which is why it gives all of us, including brands, the opportunity to engage and to act. In short, it allows us to be in the moment.“ (Quote by Katie Stanton) – Watch Closing Keynote Day 2

Future of Programmatic
3. „The client defines the value, not the agency. #Programmatic helps us capture the value,“ says Arun Kumar“ (Tweet by IPG Mediabrands) – Watch Programmatic vs. Problematic

Future of Content Marketing
4. „Great discussion on the role and meaning of content marketing in the Debate Hall of @dmexco“ (Tweet by Roza Tsvetkova) – Watch Content Marketing Debate

5. Future of Creativity & Innovation
„Adding value is to make the complex simple“ says Laura Desmond. I agree! #dmexco“ – (Tweet by Simon Harris) – Watch Laura Desmond!

In another year as a co-moderator of the dmexco conference program, it was a great honor to moderate
the „Women Leadership Table“ for the second time – this year Denise Colella (Maxifier), Noelia Fernández Arroyo (Yahoo!), Anne Frisbie (InMobi) and Ashley Swartz (Furious Minds) attended. Thank you ladies, you were smart and know why analytics, mobile, social, and content seed the future of brand success.

The moderation of the panel „Realtime Branding“ (Social Media) was a great pleasure for me. Here we had Sarah Wood (Unruly), Surjit Chana (IBM), Brian Goffman (LinkedIn), Holger Luedorff (Foursquare) and Markus Spiering (Flickr/Yahoo!) at the dmexco bar table. Learnings? If there was a network with a limitation of 50 words, they would be able to manage it perfectly. Just watch the debate until the end to get their expert view on what you as a marketer should invest in to leverage social media.

Spot On!
The challenges for brand marketers haven’t changed massively since 2012. Big Data is still rocking and not yet fully understood in companies in terms of how to make use of it in the future. In case they are seeing the benefit, they still need to hope for a value chain between publishers, agencies and the LUMAscape players to cope with the evolution of adtechnology – and some will still try to find an agency to manage the data for them. Marketing and cloud services might become a new opportunity to analyse and measure the data for a clever strategy between going to market with long-term „content strategy“ (community, monitoring, pull) and the short-term „campaign“ (banner, SEO, push) approach – whether in social commerce, mobile or social. The digital future will remain exciting – stay tuned.

Looking forward to the next dmexco in Cologne, September, 10. and 11., 2014 – CU there!

Hey MINI! Not interested in brand advocates?

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My MINI Paceman - So much fun with it!

My MINI Paceman – So much fun with it!

Listen BMW and MINI! This is not a story made up. This is real. This is me.

When the MINI Paceman was first promoted at the Detroit Motor Show in 2011 as a concept car, I said and wrote to my fans, followers and friends: „This is gonna be my new car!“ To some of them, it came as no surprise. Some knew of my passion for the MINI brand. Some recalled my words from brand strategy workshops, from keynote speeches or marketing seminars. Some remembered pictures of me in front of my former white MINI Cooper, and they were surprised I am selling it. Some responded and asked questions about features of the new Paceman; even I could not answer those days. Today I can.

But… Many of them did not even know of the new concept, the new brand, the new design, the new small SUV category that MINI kind of invented, and so on. I did. I saw the potential. I just got infected by the brand. I wanted a new MINI Paceman. I loved the outlook: Getting the keys handed out for a MINI Paceman.

I have thought a long time about writing this post, or just forgetting about it. But I am a challenger…

Today, the IAA 2013 is opening their doors in Frankfurt. Car brands are proudly presenting their latest auto concepts. Managers posing in front of their new innovations in modern steel or carbon. They are shaking hands with those that make them look good. But who does really make them stand out? The technical suppliers? The revenue driving resellers? The social influencers? Or those who hold up a sign in the streets without being incentivized or getting cash saying: „I love this brand!“ Those who stand out, and those who make stand out: the brand advocates?

Maybe today is the right time to write a blog post and tell a story that to many of my fans, followers and friends sounds unbelievable – but MINI, I tell you, it is the absolute truth. I write it in the night when other people are sleeping. My clients tomorrow won’t care whether I had enough sleep, or not. I write this, when there is more important things on the desktop than leveraging a brand that does not listen, nor understand. Am I mad? Am I not clever? No, I am honest. I am what I am. I am a real MINI Paceman advocate.

Beginning of February 2013, I sat down with my MINI car sales representative and told him that I want to buy a Paceman. I wanted to be one of the first in Munich. I wanted to sign the contract. Now. And I asked whether he could open doors to the marketing, PR or social media department at MINI when an idea hit my brain just in the minutes when I sat there: Two of my clients have called me their „pacemaker“. The word transition from pacemaker to paceman was not too far off for me. So, some brilliant thought (at least in my mind) awoke in my head: Why not call yourself „Mr. Paceman“?

A concept created in a brain flash: Website domain. Web space. Web blog. Unique content published in a Paceman. The life of a Pacemaker in a Paceman. Lifestyle. Design. Speed. My life.

While the reseller configured my MINI Paceman, I bought the website domain, set up the blog with a little help of a friend and scribbled the whole concept on my smartphone. I told my MINI sales rep about the idea when I had signed the contract. He was enthusiastic about the concept and saw a lot of other potential cooperation opportunities.

I was ready to start publishing. Publishing about the pleasant participation for my MINI Paceman. The color. The design. The coffee holders. The changing interior lights. The engine. And so on. Publishing about the pace of my days, my experiences with the new Paceman, my life in a MINI Paceman nutshell. I wanted to share pictures of MINIs. I wanted to post design ideas of other MINI freaks, and find the first MINI Paceman pics, I might come across. And a lot more…

Now, obviously I knew about brand protection and brand rights. I knew that -before I started buying the domain- I should get in touch with some MINI brand contacts and get some formal permission to use the brand name. I thought: „Just do it!“

So, I wrote emails to MINI, their PR department, their marketing department, their social media people, and their agencies. I even contacted strategic partners from MINI. I wish I hadn’t done it. I felt like a little unloved kid being pushed from one corner to another in order not to cause any trouble for anyone, in order to shut up. MINI did not move. I continued. The answers I got where just some lines making clear that I am not allowed to use the brand for my purposes.

Hang on! My purposes? Is that the power of a big modern brand, is that arrogance, hubris or simply ignorance?

If I promote a brand I like, invest time, offer to wear their branded merchandising clothes and have even bought the brand product before (and maybe a far too expensive brand product), why should I not be allowed to do marketing and PR for that brand to my fellow peers? A target-group that MINI is chasing with banners, print ads, wallpapers, outdoor marketing, newsletter mailings and a lot more.

Doesn’t this mean, I am actually doing what MINI pays others for; marketing agencies, PR people and media houses with the old „quid-pro quo“ game: editorial coverage for advertising dollars? Those institutions that create corporate publishing products for brands which cost these brands a fortune?

Shall I then be happy and not get crazy, when I get the feedback: „We might consider that you are writing a guest post on our official MINI blog.“ Hurray! What an outcome of my activities! Sorry MINI, you missed the point! I am not just a buyer. I am not a normal influencer. I am more. I am a MINI Paceman brand advocate, if you know what this means MINI. If not, you might just read the study by Ogilvy)?!

A brand concept. Still waiting for MINI to understand the value of brand advocates.

A brand concept. Still waiting for MINI to understand the value of brand advocates.

More than seven months later, the blog is still online – online without any content at The case has been mentioned by me in at least 20 seminars and on several stage appearances at events. Events where even the BMW marketing departments or some of their agencies participated. I saw people shaking heads, heard their words asking how ignorant and un-clever brands can be, and read their tweets and updates trying to get reactions to this case from MINI. MINI did nothing. For seven months now, the MINI brand managers did nothing.

Yesterday, some silver surfers passed by my MINI Paceman. One of them, a man in his seventies approached me when I got out of my Paceman: „Great car. Cool design and colors. Is this new? Have never seen this car before…“ His wife replied: „This is one of these new SUV cars but just in a MINI format. Nice high access. Like it!“

Would this make up for a really cool advertisement? Now, just imagine, I had written about such stories, shared a picture with these older people and spread the word around the world about my life in the MINI Paceman. Don’t you think these stories, these emotions, these experiences might have made a difference in the way the MINI Paceman gets positioned, promoted and had pulled sales leads?

„Advocacy goes deeper. Advocacy is emotion-driven. Advocacy is loyalty. Loyalty is commitment. Loyalty is passion. Loyalty let’s forget the rules of logic, of facts, of the rational. Advocates drive on the streets of loyalty and breath it’s air.“ Martin Meyer-Gossner on brand advocacy, September 2013

Did I make the benefit of brand advocates clear to you, MINI? Ok, then get into the next MINI Paceman and drive to me. Let’s speak!

PS: All of you out there who think MINI should make a move towards brand advocacy, share this post and maybe that will make them clear what opportunity they might have missed. And let’s hope some other brands learn from this case…!

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