Web marketing & advertising: conference at the Polytechnic University of Hong Kong
What are the real issues when talking about web advertising? How to make ourselves and our work different from the crowd? What is the essence of webmarketing and how to exploit it to create value?
Last month I was invited by Professor Eric Chin to give a speech in his course "Web marketing & advertising".
Professor Eric Chin is teaching Master degree students of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University the importance of marketing on the web and wanted me to share my knowledge and experience with them.
If you already read some of my past articles ("Which Social Media is the most adapted to my business?", "How to become rich within 24h and see your website first on Google? The secret Marketing", "Marketing concepts for product development: Product Life Cycle, Death Valley Curve, Marginal Utility"), you know how important is webmarketing.
During this conference, I had two major points I wanted to share: the importance of being different and the necessity of thought-through webmarketing strategies.
The importance of being different
Here is the core of all human concerns: how do you make yourself different so that you stand out of the crowd?
I actually took the example of the city of Hong Kong: Hong Kong is a city with extremely high density of people, attracting talents from all over the world. In Hong Kong, being different is a constant race. People are fighting for perfection; they are accumulating master degrees and doctorates like proves of their knowledge and abilities.
In such a crowd, surrounded by so many talented and smart people, standing out isn't easy and requires clear strategies.
Most people trying to be different will look for excellence in their favorite field: they might try to become the best designer, the best programmer, the best marketer... but the truth is, it does not matter how great you are, you will always find someone better.
The only solution to really stand out is to master your own competency then to enlarge it to other topics. This way, you might not be the best in what you are doing, but you will have sufficient knowledge in other fields to have a better understanding of the overall situation and see the global picture.
When it comes to work, the same concept applies: in a world where all has already been invented, how do you make your work different?
The three pillars of web marketing strategies
Being creative, using the right tools and making use of empathy are the three pillars of an efficient webmarketing strategy.
Being creative means coming up with ideas that people never developed before. Have you ever heard of the "world's best job"? Back in 2009, an Australian company wanted to attract customers to its resort. The traditional way would have been advertising on the hotel's facilities.
The company used creativity instead: they advertised not the hotel but a job offer. They encouraged people to apply for the job of gardener with a clear statement: huge salary, lots of holiday, paradise environment and little responsibility. This job was called "world's best job", and, within days, what was initially supposed to be a local campaign became a worldwide success. Hundreds of thousands of people heard of it and shared the word in many languages.
Later, many companies recognized the genius of the Australian company and tried to copy the concept. None of those campaigns ever worked: the one who is creative drives attention. Those who just follow the trends only get pieces of the cake.
Using the right tools
Did you notice that great efforts are not rewarded when placed on the wrong tools?
In 2009, Nintendo was launching a new Wii video game: "Wario Land: Shake it!". The game in itself was not what generated the buzz. The viral word of mouth came from an innovative idea: using Youtube for promotion.
I hear you: "Youtube is nothing new and millions have used it before!". And you are right.
But what Nintendo did was using the right tool (Youtube), in a creative way. While watching the video, you would see the main character, Wario, running and jumping around. At each jump, he would make the whole screen shake! The Youtube website would start breaking apart.
What a GREAT concept! Bringing Youtube video out of its usual frame and make it interact with the whole page!
The response did not wait: within a few days, millions of people were sharing the link, making the launch of a game that could have been anonymous a great event.
Make use of empathy
A common mistake is to believe your taste and your customers' tastes are identical. Keep in mind that what you believe isn't necessary the same as what your customers believe. This is why making use of empathy is so important: being able to put yourself in your customers' shoes is the best way to create products and services suiting them.
A few years ago a company came up with the concept of paper-prototyping website. The idea is simple: instead of jumping right away into programming a website, you create a first "paper version": you draw the content, the links, the buttons on sheets of paper, find a representative of your typical visitor and ask this person to play with the papers the same he would play with a website.
That way, you would actually be able to identify the interface problems before spending any time into coding and designing the site. This method makes perfect use of empathy and integrates the customer into the process of creating a product.
Making use of empathy is the only way to actually understand your customer enough to create products and services that will suit them.
A thought-through webmarketing strategy
"I will create a Facebook page and multiply my sales!".
I have heard this hundred times. That is a very optimistic statement... too bad that it is also leading to failure!
This is a typical example of what I call a "A to Z" statement: I state "A" ("I will create a Facebook page") then "Z" ("and multiply my sales") without mentioning all this other letters or steps in between! That is like saying: "I will buy a lottery ticket and become rich!". Well, that could happen, but you would be counting on your incredible luck then!
It is essential that you build the missing steps and define the complete equation bringing you from A to Z.
If you haven't read it yet, I invite you to read my article "How to captivate your audience during a presentation" presenting this same concept in a more practical way.
First thing to define is: "why Facebook"?
If you choose Facebook because it is "trendy", because your competitors use it or because you already got 200 friends there, then think again; you are running towards a dead end.
You must start by stating your goal: here it was pretty obviously stated, "multiply my sales".
Next step is therefore coming logically: what do you do to achieve that?
In this example, the person wants to use "Facebook". But is Facebook the most adapted Social Media to use? There is no rule for this question: it completely depends on your own situation. What is your market? Who are your customers? How old are they, what do they like, how do they talk, what do they do, etc... Once you have identified your market clearly, it will be much easier to define the right platform to use.
If not done yet, I strongly encourage you to read my article "Which Social Media is the most adapted to my business?" which should help you in finding the right Social Media.
Use the same method and the same empathy to define all the steps: who are your customers? How should you talk to them? Which message should you spread? etc...
Once all steps defined, and only then, you will have a "thought-through" strategy that can work and bring results.
A short version of this conference powerpoint can be downloaded here.
Last update: 2018-11-16 Tags: polytechnic hong kong webmarketing be different conference web advertising social media conference