As cold as ice

I suppose I should start this post by briefly mentioning the craze that has taken over the internet (and my Facebook newsfeed) in the last few weeks namely the 'ice bucket challenge'. On Thursday we were asked to film our Vice Chancellor performing it and there's absolutely no escaping from it with everyone having an opinion on the validity and ethics behind what has become an extremely popular campaign. Personally, I am yet to be nominated and whilst I feel giving to charity is something we should all do there's no excuse for pressuring people into it! This is because many people already give to charities which reflect their personal beliefs/trials without feeling the need to draw attention to it or 'nominate' others.

With a campaign like this that has caught on so vehemently there are clearly some key lessons for marketers:
  • People like to show off (and demonstrate their popularity by nominating friends). Sadly, many of us have narcissistic qualities as the abundance of 'selfies' also proves. This campaign takes it up a notch and adds a competitive nature to the proceedings. The barriers to participate are pretty low (everyone has access to a bucket, water and some ice) and the video run-times are short (60secs max) meaning a low commitment to consume
  • Everyone is now a content creator as it is now so easy to post video from a smartphone. This further proves that we online marketers need to put video at the very core of our digital strategies and find more creative ways to engage with consumers via the medium
  • This plays of the current cult of celebrity culture meaning copycat ventures will struggle to transpose the same level of engagement and willingness to share content
  • Where the campaign could be improved is added information to educate (i.e. many participants have a limited knowledge of the charity they are donating to). Further to this it does however prove that by incorporating good causes into the marketing mix people can be encouraged to engage with the brand
In other news I have been spending a lot of time in our Google AdWords account and producing daily reports on our continued Clearing activity. The former is becoming increasingly complex as we refine and add more campaigns based on how the user is searching and which courses we are trying to push. I've definitely noticed a ramping up of this since last year and the online spend for some universities must nearly be nearing seven figures! As we near the stage of closure and a final campaign analysis it's clear we have learned a great deal for next year based on how potential students interact with our website and the tenacity of our competitors!

Winter is coming...!
The next step for us will be our forthcoming winter campaign (I'm budget planning as I type) and for that we have created a shift in the way we market from campaign to campaign. In the past ex-colleagues have thrown out everything that was previously done and gone back to the drawing board to create a completely new idea. I have never liked this approach as it is not one big brands take to completely re-invent their visuals and messaging three times a year.

Thankfully our new marketing team have seen the benefit of developing a natural evolution from one campaign to the next. This will allow us increased brand perception and less exhausting work to start from scratch each time! Watch this space...
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