The unreachables

It’s a rare meeting, pitch, or roadmap that doesn’t involve “reaching millennials”.

The term, coined in 1987, was meant to refer to people coming of age in the new millennium – originally those of us born circa 1982. Most sources still define millennials as born within a twenty-year period beginning in the early 80’s.

This may be a generation, but it’s completely useless as a media/marketing target.

The pace of change in media, content, entertainment, and the way marketing messages are delivered is far too fast to measure in generations. It’s not just that today’s sixteen-year-old and today’s thirty-six-year old grew up in completely different worlds. The way we experience, consume, and understand our world changes dramatically year over year.

So, in reality, “millennials” is totally meaningless. 

“Reaching millennials” is almost always code for one of two things: capturing youth culture (whole different deal) or reaching the unreachables. It’s the unreachables that have really changed the way we need to approach business.

Unreachables. We don’t watch TV. We don’t have cable or any push-only subscriptions. We don’t make appointments for media. We don’t have landlines. We’re often totally unwired. We don’t see print. We use adblockers. We “miss” other ads because we’ve already moved on from the target.

We know when we are being “branded at” and can, often do, choose to ignore it.

We make decisions by reaching out to a trusted group of sources that we personally curate, and we can reach these sources from anywhere at any time. 

We’re really hard to map as an attribution model or “customer journey” because there are so many places you can’t see us.

Unreachables don’t consume media in the way we are expected to; don’t sit through ads; absorb messaging in a different way, if at all; aren’t where you expect your audience to be after decades of traditional TV, print, radio, and traditional digital marketing.

Unreachables are the huge and growing audience whose lives don’t align with the plan you made last year, let alone the canonical wisdom you’ve built up over a decade or more.

This has nothing to do with millennials. You want the unreachables.

Tomorrow, November 9, at 2:30 PM CET, I’ll be leading a roundtable at Web Summit’s Marketing X on “How Do You Reach the Unreachable Audience?”. Come say hi if you’ll be in Lisbon. If you’re not, I’ll be sharing some of the group’s insight and comments post-conference. 

From today’s Web Summit blog: CMOs talk about our biggest challenges.

By Eoghan McNeill

The ways in which brands can, and indeed are expected to, reach consumers are changing at a breakneck pace. We talked to the CMOs of GE, Facebook, Forbes, CapitalOne and Lucid – all of whom are set to attend Web Summit in November – to get their takes on where marketing will be in the future.

This year at Web Summit, for the first time Marketing Summit will take place over all three event days. We’re also hosting Marketing X, an invite-only event, where the world’s top marketers can discuss the ever-changing industry.

Elizabeth Brooks – CMO – Lucid

What is the one major change you see in marketing since you first entered the industry?

The major change is actually the speed of change. My first marketing job was at Napster, which created what, at the time, seemed a very rapid shift in consumer behaviour around entertainment. Now, new platforms, tools, data, cultural factors and more affect people so swiftly and become accepted and acculturated at such a pace – it’s amazing. Every day brings new opportunities to reach people and this spawns so much creativity in the marketing space.

What is the hardest obstacle to overcome as a CMO today?

The limitations of the title. As CMOs we are often limited by outside perceptions of what that title means and also can be limited by ourselves if we define ourselves narrowly as “marketers”. You could be running brand, creative, digital, analytics, CRM, UX, customer acquisition, media mix, content, PR, social, and more – it’s a broader brief than many think and needs to be a core role in overall business strategy. I’m more and more preferring CSO (Chief Strategy Officer) or other titles that reflect the CMO’s ideal leadership role in company direction and overall growth.

What do you hope to learn at Web Summit?

The key to personal and professional growth is being surrounded by awesome people – I think the most valuable learnings will be surprises! Web Summit brings out the best of the best, so I’ll be open-eyed and open-eared to everything. I particularly look forward to the global perspectives brought by Web Summit attendees.

Check out all the perspectives of these Web Summit CMO attendees.

What’s in a name? Experts weigh in on challenges of rebranding.

A dive into rebranding – cover story from New Orleans City Business leading with my Lucid rebrand. I’d link, but it’s 100% paywalled. Short take: it takes a lot of self-knowledge to rebrand really well.

Article by Natalie Chandler. Originally published in NOCB on July 28, 2016.

Things had become a bit confusing at Federated Sample five years after its launch.

The New Orleans-based market research firm had doubled in size, expanding into the software, data and customer insight sectors while still offering its customers access to a large database of consumer surveys. Federated Sample also had a business unit with the same name and plans to add offices in London, New Delhi and New York.

A renaming and rebranding was announced in 2015. Federated Sample became Lucid, a nod to its goal to become clearer.

“It’s a clean way to say who we are. No matter which unit of Lucid you’re dealing with, you’re dealing with a company that is transparent and is making the unknown known and getting real human answers,” said Elizabeth Brooks, an investor in the startup who acts as its chief marketing officer. “We thought we needed a name that could embrace all three business units and speak to the core values of the company and the brand.”

Whether it’s to freshen up a stale image, find a new voice or revamp because of an adjustment in ownership and structure, rebranding remains a popular path with the potential for success or pitfalls.

Several local firms have announced plans this year to rebrand, change names or otherwise overhaul their appearances. Chaffe McCall LLP recently rolled out a new logo. Our Lady of Holy Cross College became University of Holy Cross. And the New Orleans Zephyrs could become the New Orleans Baby Cakes, Crawfish, King Cakes, Night Owls or Po’Boys, among other names suggested in a renaming contest for the baseball team.

A company’s brand is “how you walk and talk and look,” said Eddie Snyder, chief creative director for PURE, an ad agency that recently moved into the Central Business District from New York City.

“It’s the ethos and pathos of a brand that comes across in the language and swagger and attitude. There’s an attitude, and you have to maintain that,” said Snyder, a former vice president and executive creative director at Peter Mayer Advertising who has worked with clients on branding.

“How will they like me? Why will they want to use me? Why do they want me on their counter, or why will they want to wear me?” he said.

Branding and re-branding can have varying outcomes, depending on whether a company’s product needs changes or it has failed its customers. It may not be necessary – ice cream giant Blue Bell survived its recent brush with listeria because of its tremendously loyal following, Snyder noted.

But other popular brands have had to re-adjust. Snyder recalls being hired to re-introduce Coke Zero after the company had spent “a tremendous amount of money” on initial ads that failed to convey how it was different from Coke.

“I think the most important thing is to be true to the consumer,” he said. “A lot of times with rebranding, you’re not (doing it) for the benefit of the CEO or board. You’re rebranding for the honor of the brand and the consumer – so the consumer can believe in you, so they want you in their lives, so you can develop a tighter, better relationship.”

After the 2010 oil spill, BP changed its logo into a greener, more organic image to foster a more favorable public opinion. Gap’s attempt to ignite more interest in its clothes ended with the firm reverting back to its more familiar logo. Radio Shack met the same fate when it morphed into “The Shack” in 2009.

Elyria Kemp, associate professor of marketing at the University of New Orleans, recommends that companies consider if rebranding is necessary, since consumers “equate a steady brand with reliability.” A rebranding effort may be needed more if the firm is merging with or acquiring another, or if its target audience has changed, or if the company is undergoing a philosophical shift, she said.

That was the case with the New Orleans Pelicans’ name change, which “was supposed to represent and embody the culture and resolve of the Gulf Coast, and it also symbolized Louisiana’s coastal restoration initiative,” she said.

In Lucid’s case, the firm’s leaders spoke with shareholders and employees before rebranding. The process included a new website and logo, redesigned business cards and signage and changes to the office. Clients were notified before the news was circulated to the media.

But most importantly, Lucid’s staff got on board first, Brooks said.

“It was received incredibly well,” said Brooks, who has helped other firms rebrand. “It was having a core brand that everyone could be proud of.”

“My advice is, do your work beforehand,” she added. “Don’t leap before you look. Talk to stakeholders and employees, get input from your customers. Really figure out who are you today, who do you want to be tomorrow?”

Do Not Touch

Just back from CES, the massive electronics/tech show in Vegas. I was walking through the 3D printing exhibits (still cool to see) and noticed one company had a whole shelf of beautifully made items front and center – with a large sign saying “Please Do Not Touch”.

Most of the other booths were full of curious convention-goers turning over, examining, and generally touching the 3D-printed merchandise.

Customers, and potential customers, don’t want to be told “Do Not Touch”. Whatever the equivalent of touching is for you- tactile handling of a product or simply letting customers know there’s a real person behind an interaction – encourage the people you want to attract to “Please Touch”.


Photo by John O’Nolan.

Proof “Know Me” Campaign

We took a very different direction on this introductory video for the Proof suite of software products. Proof is based on matching cookies and device IDs to a) a media campaign of any kind and b) Lucid’s huge pool of survey respondents. It reveals a picture of the audience that marketers have historically not been able to see.
I thought it would be interesting to work off the idea that we don’t know much about other people, and that as you get to know someone they gradually reveal small things about themselves that add up to a greater whole.

Marketing is a product

I’ve worked as both a head of marketing and a product lead, but sometimes the two are absolutely separated and viewed as completely different domains and disciplines.

This is a fallacy.

Marketing is a product.

Your marketing strategy/rollout is a cohesive creation, including brand, messaging, content, etc., but also built on top of multiple platforms: CRM, email engines, analytics, optimization tools, content platforms, and so on.

Products are a mix of feel, form, and function. Like any product, your marketing is designed to reach and please a customer, to bring them into your world, and to be useful. Every human who’s reached by your brand anywhere is using a product from you already. When you find a feature that doesn’t work, you adjust that feature.

Marketing is a product.

Accordion, St. Francis Madera School for the Blind

This photograph was taken in Madera, Soroti, Uganda at an extraordinary school run by and housing extraordinary people.
The visually impaired in East Africa don’t have a lot of choices and often face abandonment or worse. St. Francis is a boarding school by necessity. One of the ways the kids (ranging from 3 to late teens) expand their creativity, learn teamwork, blow off steam, and generally have fun is through the school band.
If you’d like to know more about the school and what it needs, send me a note.

Cultivate curiosity

Cultivate curiosity. Especially about other people. It’s too easy to keep your head down, focused on your project, your objectives, your industry. Ask someone else about what they do and why they love it. It will be good for “your work” too.

Photo by Talia Cohen.

What content needs to learn from gaming

There has been a fixed idea in the minds of content owners for a very long time now. It’s a “gating” mindset – the user needs to pay to enjoy the content BEFORE they’ve begun to enjoy it.

Gaming already learned this lesson. It’s a lot easier to get someone to pay when they’re already having fun. Of course you want to power-up after you’ve successfully surfed through a medieval castle in space (I made that one up).

In-app monetization changed everything for game models.

This is one reason trusted brands like Disney do better upfront in the gated model. They’re already a proven source of fun.

Asking people to pay before you’ve proven your value is tough. Ask me for money when I’m having fun.

The Dawn Wall

You’ve almost certainly seen the amazing free-climbing ascent of El Capitan’s Dawn Wall completed this week by Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson. (If not, here’s a nice write-up.)  To put it into perspective, “sending” a 5.12 and above pitch means you’re a GREAT rock climber. The Dawn Wall is an unbroken stretch of 32 pitches from 5.12 to 5.16 (which is basically unmeasurable).

Caldwell and Jorgeson lived on the wall for 19 days. The ascent could be a business book in itself, but here are some things I personally took away from this in terms of tackling massive challenges:

Prepare like crazy. Jorgeson and Caldwell spent five years working on various pitches and trying the wall in all seasons.

– Don’t be tripped up by what you perceive as handicaps (I’m too young, too old, too shy, don’t have the degree – whatever). Tommy Caldwell has nine fingers.

– There will always be a really, really, insanely tough part and you will need to push through it. It took Jorgeson a week to complete pitch 15.

– Share your struggle. The climbers tweeted, Facebooked, and Instagrammed their way up the wall, were visible to everyone, and were honest about the tough parts. The world loved them for this and cheered them on. 

– The impossible is only impossible until it’s done.


Photo by Mitchell Cipriano. Creative Commons 2.0.