Guest Speaker
Simon Iredale from Motionlab

40 UCLan students, graduates, staff and Lancashire businesses attended an engaging Propeller networking event at the UCLan Media Factory in Preston

Simon is CEO of full service digital design agency Motionlab as well as running several other companies.  His aim was to show that digital can be a distraction and is simply a series of distribution channels, but channels that can have an enormous impact on business success or failure. By ensuring that they have the right content being delivered to the right audience at the right time, business owners can ensure that their marketing efforts and budgets are achieving optimal results.

Simon used a number of key words to illustrate his points but emphasised that they should not be seen as linear and that they all inter connect to contribute to business communication.

  1. Demand – Put the work in to ensure basic product or service viability.  Will people want it and can it be cost effectively brought to market?
  2. Differentiation – Simon used his own sector as an example citing a figure from Digital Lancashire that there are around 2800 digital agencies in the county.  This sounds a lot and presumably is a fairly broad definition but does illustrate the need for successful businesses to stand out and be clear about the strengths of their offers.Simon also used an example from his previous employer EasyJet as a new entrant to an already very competitive commercial aviation marketplace.  As well as making the planes themselves stand out, the company introduced other “disruptive” innovations such as ticketless processes and non- allocated seating.
  3. Audience – Tailoring messages to individual target segments, or even individual customers is much easier with digital technologies and channels.  Messages and campaigns can be trialled and refined very quickly.  Care is needed however as poorly thought out marketing can back fire through rapid sharing and near instant global exposure.  We can all probably think of a few marketing “own goals” that have made the news lately.
  4. Competition – Take the time to really know your competitors and therefore how to defeat them.
  5. Values – People will relate to values with which they can identify and that clearly convey the benefits to them, as they perceive them from their own situation.
    • What do people remember – Donald Trump’s campaign slogan of “Make America Great Again” or Hillary Clinton’s “Stronger Together”?    Do we remember it because he won, or is this what helped him to win, i.e. much more dynamic and engaging for his target audience?
    • A quote from Theodore Levitt illustrates the point that people buy benefits, “people don’t want ¼” drills, they want ¼” holes.”
  6. Content – Related to audience above, content can be targeted much more quickly and precisely with new digital technologies and channels.  Simon introduced the technique of “split testing” that had been used to great effect in Donald Trump’s successful presidential campaign.  Different messages can be tested in parallel with different groups and the process refined and repeated as necessary to identify those that will have the greatest positive impact on the target audience.Your content should be helpful, useful, original and authentic with key content messages stemming directly from values and vision.Deliver content appropriately depending where customers, or potential customers are in their relationship with the company.  Are you trying to win brand new customers, upsell to existing ones, or even move away from certain customer groups?
  7. Trust – 90% of customers now trust peer recommendations over advertising.  People can quickly think of products and services that are rated, from hotels, auction site purchases, insurance and utility suppliers and even taxi companies.  This isn’t just one way, customers can be rated too (e.g. by Uber drivers).  Warren Buffet observed that reputations take “20 years to build and 5 minutes to ruin”.   Digital can be a powerful positive tool but problems and issues can quickly be shared and escalate, to damaging effect.
  8. Innovation – the old business adage that if you stand still you’re actually going backwards.  As Lily Tomlin succinctly stated “the road to success is always under construction”.

Simon’s excellent and thought provoking presentation was very well received by the audience and led to an interesting question and answer session.

The next Propeller networking event will be run jointly in conjunction with UCLan’s Lancashire School for Business & Enterprise.  The date for your diaries is Tuesday 10 April from 4pm to 7pm.  Felipe Baquero, business owner, international solicitor and former Apprentice contestant will challenge the audience with the question “are you really an entrepreneur” and will provide his view on what it really means to be one.  Book your place and come along to see if you agree.