Wednesday, 23 August 2017

6 Brands Using Innovative Marketing Strategies

When it comes to marketing strategies, it helps to have a competitive edge. The most successful campaigns are those, which are not only creative with a clear message, they also consider a range of other factors like a brand’s value proposition, sustainable competitive advantages and most importantly their customers.

For the last six weeks, in Innovative Marketing Strategies MKTG6203, USYD Master of Marketing students have been learning to apply strategies, frameworks and theory in real-world business scenarios. At the core, marketing is a form of storytelling, a way of communicating value to customers, but as it turns out, marketing goes much deeper than that.

Developing innovative competitive marketing strategies requires a long-term perspective that makes use of concepts, frameworks and tools from across the marketing discipline. It turns out that innovation isn’t only about being creative, as marketers we must also draw upon our knowledge of strategic business management, entrepreneurship and finance. Only then can we create sustainable value for all of our stakeholders.

Marketing Matters looks at some brilliant examples of innovative marketing from the leading brands of 2017.

1. Snap Spectacles Hyped-Up Product Launch

Snap Spectacles are a great example of how to use PR to help spread the buzz around a product launch. Snapchat’s Snapbots recieved a massive amount of attention with little spend. By creating a hype around the release of the new Snapbots, they created a perceived demand around their product.

Snapbots are essentially pop-up stores in the form of cool looking vending machines that people were lining up to buy a pair. Everywhere a Snapbot was 'dropped', crowds gathered to form queues that spun around the block. At the same time, all these people who were spending hours in the queue taking photos were creating free attention on social media and then free PR when the tweeting about being in a queue to buy some Snap Specs which was picked up by media outlets.

Rather than just being in the press once, when it was launched, Snapchat keeps making the papers every time a new Snapbot is dropped in a major city, getting several times the coverage any traditional product launch would have received.

But the most notable aspect of this campaign is how it aligns with the core principles of Snapchat’s value proposition of authenticity, expressiveness and playfulness.

2. Virgin Holidays VR Experiential Retail Marketing

There’s been a lot of buzz in 2017 about experiential marketing and the possibilities of virtual reality as a marketing tool.

Virgin Holidays took experiential retail marketing one step further by co-creating Virgin Reality headsets using Google Cardboard technology. VR was made available in-store with Virgin providing customers with headsets to create an immersive VR experience. To produce the 3D video, Virgin took a special 360 rig and GoPro cameras to a Virgin resort in Mexico; walking along cliffs, visiting their hotels, beaches and even swimming with dolphins to capture the range of experiences on offer.

Source: Virgin Holiday Virtual Holidays, YouTube

Customers were blown away by the experience on offer in Virgin Holidays stores and responded by increasing their propensity to buy. Not only did sales explode, trips to the resort featured by the VR technology, rose significantly. 

If we consider the essence of Virgin as being youthful, energetic, efficient and professional, characteristics of Richard Branson himself, we can see that this latest marketing campaign embodies everything Virgin stands for.

3. Nike Combining Customer Service With Social Media.

When it comes to social media, Nike truly does have an exemplary presence. Their Twitter account - @NikeSupport - is a great example of how social media can be used for customer relationship management. Their positive company-customer interaction allows them to respond quickly and efficiently to specific questions about peoples’ orders or accounts on a separate platform.

Nike’s mission statement states its corporate operations and retail stores are all about the athletes they serve and the inspiration and innovation that Nike products provide to those consumers.

Having a separate account for customer support is an innovative way for Nike to be accessible to its customers without diluting the content on @Nike or @NikeStore. It also reinforces the fact that Nike cares about their customers - with phrases like, “give us a shout if you need help.”

4. Whole Foods Educate Their Customers

More than just a grocery store, Whole Foods has also branded themselves as a lifestyle choice. The brand embraces healthy living and earth-conscious eating.

Whole Foods brilliantly uses content marketing to communicate their core values to their customers. Their online purchasing platform also hosts a blog with articles about saving money but still eating healthy, tips to change your diet for the better; making Whole Foods’ products and lifestyle a holistic approach to eating and grocery shopping. 

In addition to informative blog posts, the website uses a lot of proactive language (“I want to learn/do/both”) as a search option in its navigation bar, inviting the audience feel like they have an active role in the experience.

The lasting connections created by this kind of inclusive content attracts not only new customers, it also retains their existing customer base; giving convert a whole new meaning. Whole Foods creates a community of health and earth-conscious consumers and the content it produces supports that idea.

5. Patagonia and Social Responsibility

Patagonia’s mission is rooted in social responsibility. “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire, and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” Goals such as these aren’t easily communicated by traditional forms of marketing. That’s why, Patagonia uses content to get their message across. At the same time, building a tribe of people who share those values and support the community through purchases.

Patagonia’s blog, The Cleanest Line, shares stories about the environment, including firm declarations about where the company stands on ethical and environmental issues. The company has also co-created podcasts about the outdoors with the Dirtbag Diaries, and produced and supported short films that tackle environmental issues. On example of this is The Refuge about two women from the Gwich’in people of Alaska who are on a quest to protect their land.

Patagonia has a large, active and engaged social media following, which they use as key distribution channels to drive fans to the longer-form blog content and spread their environmental message - rather than promote sales. 

Source: ‘The Refuge’, YouTube

6. Starbucks Animated Series

Starbucks is no stranger to innovation. They have mobile apps, massive social audiences (36 million fans on Facebook, 12.6 million on Instagram) and also a thriving YouTube channel. But it wasn’t until recently that Starbucks really began to kick some goals in regards to innovation. 

Starbucks did already have a blog, 1912 Pike, but the site was sales driven; only offering recipes and information about brewing and sourcing coffee. The brand’s exisiting social channels were focused on consumer engagement and popular Starbucks drinks (#PSL) and products (#RedCups).

Starbucks YouTube channel: Upstanders

Last September, Starbucks decided to take advantage of the opportunity to reach out to a larger audience by launching Upstanders (See video above). Starbucks first content series featured an original collection of videos, written stories, and podcasts that were produced by Howard Schultz, Chairman and CEO of Starbucks, and Rajiv Chandrasekaran, a former Washington Post editor. The series shares the experiences of Upstanders - ordinary people doing extraordinary things to create positive change in their communities.

Following its success, the company then launched 1st and Main, an animated web series featuring talking animals who work and hang out at Starbucks. This strange animated series was conceived by a trio of Simpsons writers who worked at Starbucks every morning and saw the Wifi log-in page as a missed opportunity to serve content to a captive audience.

Starbucks YouTube channel: 1st & Main

So what lessons can we take away from all of this? It’s one thing to have a creative slogan, great content or a viral video - just remember that these are all tactics. They will be forgotten as soon as they are remembered unless they are linked to some form of strategy or objective.

If you want to build a stronger brand, or truly connect with your customers in a way that will create sustainable competitive advantages, then leverage the things that your brand stands for or wants to stand for. Whether that’s sustainability, authenticity, or innovation, always try to create unique, personalised experiences and content, people want to share, tell a story that people can relate to and teach your audience something. Most importantly, remain agile, adaptable and never lose that competitive edge.

Alyce Brierley
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Friday, 18 August 2017

The Storytellers’ Secret Weapon

Being able to understand the archetype of your brand, and that of your competitors, is a powerful tool in a marketers shed! It can be used to produce content, review branding, or understand competitor dynamics.

You may have heard a reference to archetypes being thrown around in different presentations, discussions or from Contemporary Consumer Behaviour back in semester 1. What a Hero. Typical Jester! That’s out of character! But what is it all about? What are archetypes, and how can marketers use them to better position the brand and communicate to their audience with a consistent approach?

What is an Archetype?

To the story teller or writer, consider Robin Hood as the outlaw, or Bart Simpson as the rebel. An archetype is basically a personality or type of character for the brand.

Archetypes stem from the work of psychologists Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. They were applied to marketing in The Hero and the Outlaw, a book by Margaret Mark and Carol S. Pearson. In this book, they translate Jung’s work into 12 archetypes that are at work in branding.

Officially, an Archetype is outlined in the image below…

The 12 Archetypes

There are 12 Brand Archetypes mapped in the matrix below, which were identified by Mark and Pearson, operate in one of four quadrants.
  • Discovery/Knowledge: The Innocent, The Explorer, The Sage
  • Vision/Structure: The Creator, The Ruler, The Hero
  • Belonging/Care: The Lover, The Regular Guy, The Nurturer
  • Change/Risk: The Outlaw, The Magician, The Jester.

Let’s take a look at them in detail.

The Innocent
Goal: To be happy
Traits: Strives to be good, is pure, young, optimistic, simple, moral, romantic, loyal
Drawback: Could be naïve or boring
Marketing niche: Companies with strong values, seen as trustworthy, reliable and honest, associated with morality, good virtues, simplicity, can be nostalgic
Example: Dove soap, Coca-Cola, Cottonelle bathroom tissue

The Explorer
Goal: Finds fulfilment through discovery and new experiences
Traits: Restless, adventurous, ambitious, individualistic, independent, pioneering
Drawback: Might not fit into the mainstream
Marketing niche: Exciting, risk-taking, authentic
Example: Indiana Jones, Jeep, Red Bull

The Sage
Goal: To help the world gain wisdom and insight
Traits: Knowledgeable, trusted source of information, wisdom and intelligence, thoughtful, analytical, mentor, guru, advisor
Drawback: Could be overly contemplative or too opinionated
Marketing niche: Help people to better understand the world, provide practical information and analysis
Example: BBC, PBS, Google, Philips

The Creator
Goal: Create something with meaning and enduring value
Traits: Creative, imaginative, artistic, inventive, entrepreneur, non-conformist
Drawback: Could be perfectionistic or impractical
Marketing niche: Visionary, help customers express or create, and foster their imagination
Example: Lego, Crayola

The Ruler
Goal: Control, create order from chaos
Traits: Leader, responsible, organized, role model, administrator
Drawback: Could lack a common connection, or be too authoritative or controlling
Marketing niche: Help people become more organized, restore order, create more stability and security in a chaotic world
Example: Microsoft, Barclays, Mercedes-Benz

The Hero
Goal: Help to improve the world
Traits: Courageous, bold, honourable, strong, confident, inspirational
Drawback: Could be arrogant or aloof
Marketing niche: Make a positive mark on the world, solve major problems or enable/inspire others to do so
Example: Nike, BMW, Duracell

The Lover
Goal: Create intimacy, inspire love
Traits: Passionate, sensual, intimate, romantic, warm, committed, idealistic
Drawback: Could be too selfless or not grounded enough
Marketing niche: Help people feel appreciated, belong, connect, enjoy intimacy, build relationships
Example: Victoria’s Secret, Godiva Chocolate, Marie Claire

The Regular Guy
Goal: To belong, or connect with others
Traits: Down to earth, supportive, faithful, folksy, person next door, connects with others
Drawback: Could lack a distinctive identity and blend in too much
Marketing niche: Common touch, solid virtues, gives a sense of belonging
Example: Home Depot, eBay

The Nurturer
Goal: To care for and protect others
Traits: Caring, maternal, nurturing, selfless, generous, compassionate
Drawback: Being taken advantage of, taken for granted, or exploited
Marketing niche: Help people care for themselves, serve the public through health care, education or aid programs
Example: Mother Theresa, Campbell’s Soup, Johnson & Johnson, Heinz

The Outlaw
Goal: Break the rules and fight authority
Traits: Rebellious, iconoclastic, wild, paving the way for change
Drawback: Could take it too far and be seen in a negative way
Marketing niche: Agent of change, advocate for the disenfranchised, allow people to vent or break with conventions
Example: Harley-Davidson, Virgin (Richard Branson)

The Magician
Goal: Make dreams come true, create something special
Traits: Visionary, charismatic, imaginative, idealistic, spiritual
Drawback: Could take risks that lead to bad outcomes
Marketing niche: Help people transform their world, inspire change, expand consciousness
Example: Disney, Wizard of Oz, Apple

The Jester
Goal: To bring joy to the world
Traits: Fun, sense of humour, light-hearted, mischievous, irreverent
Drawback: Could be seen as frivolous or disrespectful
Marketing niche: Help people have a good time or enjoy what they are doing, allow people to be more impulsive and spontaneous
Example: Motley Fool, Ben & Jerry’s, IKEA

How can Archetypes be used?

A brand archetype should be integrated into all aspects of marketing, and communicated consistently to customers.

Content creation
The way your brand speaks, writes and communicates should align with your archetype. If you are a
If Darth Vader were to make a joke about light-sabres, it would be out of character. This inconsistent approach would undermine his position. The same is true for brands.

Your logo, colours, font and imagery should also consistently communicate your archetype. Darth Vader wearing pink shoes? Yeah…you get the point! How your image comes across can re-affirm your position, or initiate a PR nightmare!

Competitor analysis
What does your category look like? The not-for-profit sector could be seen as an innocent category, but brands operating within that can align differently. Understanding the dynamic within your competitor set can uncover an opportunity, or allow you to exploit a weakness in their archetype.

So as you can see, brand archetypes can be a powerful marketing tool. Brands with a strong, clearly communicated personality are more likely to resonate longer with consumers. Understanding the position of your brand and competitors can produce more effective content and inform branding. 

Further reading

To learn more about building brands, take a look at The Hero and the Outlaw: Building Extraordinary Brands Through the Power of Archetypes, by Mark & Pearson (2001). Slideshare looks at archetype groups more in detail in an Archetype Overview From The Hero And The Outlaw.

The research of Faber and Mayer (2009) is the basis for an analysis measuring participant attitudes toward popular brands by matching them with archetypal descriptions and explores possible correlation between product category and archetype. And for a cross-cultural analysis about Points of View & Brand Personality, go no further than Millward Brown.

Mike Joyce

Brand Strategist and Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Monday, 14 August 2017

The Privacy Trade-Off

What is privacy? And just what kind of price are consumers willing to pay for theirs? Web services such as Facebook and Google may be 'free', but the truth is that being connected does come at a cost. Targeted ads provide value for customers, but challenge the traditional need for privacy. So when the law hasn't yet evolved in response to the collection of big data, how do we know where to draw the line in the sand?

For users of social media, Facebook's free platform offers a way to connect with the world. Their ad platform exists so users don't have to pay, but even if they did, the network wouldn't be so comprehensive if there were costs involved. For Facebook to maintain what's called 'critical mass', every single user would have to pay dollars for their services. The thing is, what most people don't realise is that they are actually paying for it now. Not with money, but with their privacy.

USYD's Marketing Matters explores the concept of privacy and what it means in this day and age by exploring the learning from Terry Beed's guest lecture for Regulatory Environment & Ethics. Louis Brandeis and Samuel Warren define privacy perfectly in their essay The Right to Privacy, stating that privacy is a right valued by civilised men-something that is essential to democratic governance and an integral part of our humanity.

We have the 'right to be alone'.

Louis Brandeis and Samuel Warren championed the protection of the private realm as "the foundation of individual freedom in the modern age." Nowadays, marketers have the ever-increasing capacity to invade consumers' personal activity.

Internet marketing brings forth a myriad of privacy challenges. And for the new breed of marketers who use targeted, behavioural marketing, without regulatory enforcement, the increased data available on the web could lead governments, companies and criminals alike to exploit consumers' rights.

Privacy is a concept in disarray. 

In Daniel Solove's essay Taxonomy for Privacy (2006), privacy is described as being 'a concept in disarray'. Solove writes, "Nobody can articulate what it means. As one commentator has observed, privacy suffers from 'an embarrassment of meanings'."

The Taxonomy For Privacy is a framework for understanding privacy in a pluralistic contextual manner, which explores the fear of what happens to private information. These fears are grounded in:

  1. Collection: surveillance and interrogation.
  2. Processing: aggregation, identification, insecurity, secondary use and exclusion. 
  3. Information Dissemination: breach of confidentiality, disclosure, exposure, increased accessibility, blackmail, appropriation and distortion. 

Privacy regulations are more than just guidelines. 

In countries, such as Germany, tough legislations exists to fight against the systematic erosion of privacy rights. In Australia, the AMSRS has outlined a code of conduct for marketers, and the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) is currently being ammended. 

In 2006, the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) commissioned a review of privacy and found that the overwhelming message was that Australians care about privacy, and they want a simple, workable system that provides effective solutions and protections. 

Source: ALRC

A similar study by the OAIC found that there was a 15% increase in Australians willing to divulge personal information; a number that rose from 43% to 58%. However, 50% were more concerned about providing their information over the Internet. 

"Australians believe the biggest privacy risks facing people are online services - including social media sites. Almost a half of the population (48%) mentioned these risks spontaneously. A quarter (23%) felt that the risk of ID fraud and theft was the biggest, followed by data security (16%) and the risks to financial data in general (11%). Young Australians were most concerned about personal information and online services, with six in ten (60%) mentioning this as a privacy risk."

See the full breakdown below: 

Reluctance was the biggest barrier, with most consumers signalling that they felt that organisations often had no right to know their personal data, or the fact that it might lead to unsolicited direct marketng. Interestingly enough, they were less concerned with financial loss due to scams.

More recently, the ALRC considered legal liability for data breach in its inquiry into remedies for serious invasions of privacy. The 2014 Report, Serious Invasions of Privacy in the Digital Era (ALRC Report 123), concluded that regulatory responses, including mandatory data breaches, are a better way to deal with data breached than a civil action for invasion of privacy. 

What this means for Australians is that instead of being blasted with headlines touting 'the end of privacy', we will soon be ushering an era of 'privacy protection'. 

The privacy market is a big business. 

Businesses value Facebook's billions of users, as much as their ability to use targeting services to reach the right audience. As the technology advances, this form of advertising will become more intrusive. For example, did you know that Facebook already has the right to endorse sponsored posts without your permission?

You see, what makes this form of advertising so successful is a little thing called 'retargeting;. By using tracking pixels, browser data is stored in what's known as cookies, which assist in improving the shopper experience. 

In the EU, websites recieve 'informed consent' when using cookies and users are notified when accessing the sites. While privacy concerns are legitimate, cookies are nothing more than pieces of data. 

The ultimate trade-off. 

There are some benefits to sacrificing privacy. For example, recommendation engiones help consumers discover great products that they might actually be interested in, which greatly enhances the online shopping experience. An app developer can analyse your behaviour to fix bugs that they may not have otherwise known about. 

Additionally, these benefits are no longer limited to digital - target marketing is beginning to migrate into bricks and mortar. Until recently, digital billboards are nothing more than slideshows. Now a company called Clear Channel Outdoor has introduced billboards featuring dynamic targeting advertisements that are programmed to target specific locations. 

One of the hurdels that could possibly impede further advancement is the consumers themselves. Consumers will need be acclimatised to changes gradually in order to help alleviate their fears over how their information is used. 

No matter what the future of technology and digital marketing brings for consumers, companies and their stakeholders, to an extent, it will always be important to respect privacy. However, at the rapid pace of technology evolution, regulation can rarely keep up with the change. So it is up to us to trust ourselves to do what is right and not add to the erosion

Alyce Brierley.
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School.

Friday, 11 August 2017

MoM Student Survival Guide

Are you feeling a little out of touch? Don't know which way is up and which way is down? In the last post, Marketing Matters covered the Marketing essentials necessary to get by this semester. This time, MoM asks some current and graduating students about how they've survived university life so far. 

What do you wish you knew about the course before you started studying?

Mitha, graduating MoM student, Digital Marketer at Glass Financial.
Time flies. 1.3 years will go by so quickly without you even realising it. So make sure to maximise that time. Don't isolate yourself, make the most of what the university can offer - from colleagues, experienced tutors, business-based clubs, events, and even resource access in the library that you'd usually have to pay thousand bucks for if you didn't have the free access from uni.

Ayesha, current MoM student, Director of Training at ILSC Sydney. 
The most important thing when it comes to this course is time management. It may look like the assignment is due in 7 days but trust me, next thing you know you only have 7 hours left! If I knew juggling work, family, and full time studies would be that hectic I probably would have considered things differently. So please do not underestimate the time and effort it consumes to get a distinction. Take things step by step. Maybe it seems daunting initially, but once you get in there you will surely enjoy the journey! Just know that we are all here for each other, so please reach out if you need any help!

What is the most rewarding thing about the Master of Marketing program?

Kevin, graduating MoM student. 
The most rewarding thing about the Master of Marketing program for me is being able to gain and share knowledge from aspiring and/or experienced marketers all over the globe. It's the most notable reward for me because not only have they helped me grow as a marketer, but they've also become friends that I will cherish for life.

Donna, graduating MoM student. Marketing Manager at Bridge Climb, Sydney. 
The Masters really gave me insights into many areas of marketing which i didn't have a great deal of exposure to. Global marketing, for instance, was something that interested me. Looking into ways to market to different cultures and create thoughtful and indepth strategies that are aligned. This will certainly assist me in my new role. Also, the opportunity to work alongside amazing like-minded people and bounce ideas off of others was extremely beneficial. Marketing to me is all about "what's next?" and asking the question of "how can we better engage with our customers and continue to improve what we offer them?". It was a breath of fresh air to be among people striving to do the same.

How has the degree prepared you for your career?

Nicole, current MoM student. Communication Coordinator at Institutional Analytics and Planning, University of Sydney. 
This degree has prepared me for my career by covering all facets of the marketing world. It truly opened my eyes to the different aspects of marketing that give grads a competitive edge. Performance reporting, internal marketing and the hands-on experience of working as a consultant are only some examples of what provides a relevant well-rounded experience regardless of the position you obtain post-graduation.

How do you balance the study load with work, family, and friends?

Ashleigh, current MoM student. Healthcare Professional and Expert Sales Representative at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).
In regards to work life balance - I think the main thing is being extremely organised with your study plans and preparations, and set times and goals for doing assessments. Also try and work with others who have similar work ethic so you may find it easier to stay on track. Ensure to always have study breaks and try and do something fun and with family and friends at least once a week. Go outside - you can study and get some vitamin D too.

Daniela, graduating MoM student.
Overall, one of the most important things I've learnt during my experience was to manage time efficiently. Everyone is capable of accomplishing anything they want to but time is a key player to achieve those goals. Being under pressure during hectic situation makes you become adaptable and quick thinking in any circumstance. My advice is to fill the schedule as much as possible because having free time ends up in procrastination. Instead, if you designate a set time to any task, you can accomplish so much more.

What tips do you have for students commencing the Consulting Project?

Kim, graduating MoM student. Current Marketing Manager at Get Craft. 
The ethics approval is a tedious process that takes a really long time. So I recommend submitting it as early as possible when you get to part two of the Consulting Project. My client was the University of Sydney's Centre for Continued Learning, so it was a low risk category, but it still took two months to receive the response after the initial application. It can take even longer if you need to do research with children.

Rebecca, current MoM student. Project Manager.
For me the most challenging aspect of the consulting project was the amount of time it took putting together the transcripts. It takes about 3 times the length of the recording to type it out and then additional time to correct typos and formatting. You also have to listen to your own voice in slow motion for hours and hours! I ended up having two interviews transcribed professionally and it cleared my head to focus on the project. It's around $1.40/minute, but it can add up quickly. For example, one of my interviews was 48 minutes long. I wish I'd put money aside in advance because it was worth it. There are phone apps out there, but I didn't really trust them to do an accurate job.

Do you have any other helpful tips for commencing students?

Lizette, current MoM student. Community and Events Manager, Incubate, University of Sydney.

  1. In regards to class, learn the basics. Don't expect everything you need to be taught in class so prepare to allot time outside of the classroom to study; this is a master program after all. 
  2. Prepare your meals properly because you'll end up eating junk food if you don't plan
  3. If you're working, make sure you inform your colleagues and people around you about you class commitments ASAP. This becomes highly important during assessment time when you have due dates.
  4. People wise, be smart about who you work with; this is your career so manage your team wisely. If team members don't pull their weight with work, pull them into line. The most stress I've gotten was mainly from group work.
  5. What makes good friends doesn't necessarily make good colleagues. In the university environment, you're looking for colleagues
  6. The university offers lots of opportunities on campus. Think about what interests you the most. You'd be surprised about all the different areas you can get support. A lot of MoM students also work on campus, and they'd be happy to give you a recommendation or referral to someone who might know more. 
  7. On the other hand, don't be afraid to try new things, there's no better place than uni to do that! Attend a meetup or society outing even if the activity is something you've never done before. 
MoM students interviewd by Alyce Brierley
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School.

Monday, 7 August 2017

MoM: Marketing Essentials Survival Guide

Going back to student life after spending years in the workforce can be overwhelming at the best of times. For those joining the Master of Marketing program in semester two, well I understand that it might be a shock to the system. But don’t worry! MoM has got you covered with this handy semester survival guide for all your marketing essentials.

Before you start feeling defeated by the heavy workload and lack of social life, just remember that we’re all here to help each other succeed. The University of Sydney has loads of workshops for maths, excel; while the Library’s Pat Norman holds workshops for using the databases; APA Referencing - there’s even a workshop on how to use Endnote if you haven’t already signed up.

But for now, let’s get you up to speed on the marketing basics.

5Cs Analysis 

Source: SMS

The 5C Analysis is one of the most commonly used frameworks, perfectly suited to understanding the internal and external environments, as well as identifying the key problems and challenges facing the company.
  • Company: Explore existing and potential problems with the company's business; the vision, strategies, capabilities, product line, technology, culture and objectives. 
  • Customers: This situational analysis involves knowing the target audience, their behaviours, market size, market growth, buying patterns, average purchase size, frequency of purchase, and preferred retail channels.
  • Competitors: A competitor analysis is crucial to understanding the external environment in which the firm operates. This involves knowing the competitors' strengths, weaknesses, positioning, market share, and upcoming initiatives.
  • Collaborators: Collaborators are otherwise referred to as external stakeholders with a mutually beneficial partnership. Understanding the capabilities, performances, and issues of agencies, suppliers, distributors, and business partners helps to better identify business problems. 
  • Climate/Context: This is the evaluation of the macro-environmental factors affecting the business. A PESTLE or PEST analysis framework can be used to analyse the economic, social/cultural, technological, environmental, and legal scenarios.

STP Targeted Marketing 

Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning, or STP, is a three-step process used in targeting marketing plans, and after SWOT is one of the most commonly applied models in practice.
  1. Segmentation: Identify potential market segments you could target in a marketing campaign.
  2. Targeting: Customise marketing campaigns and communication channels that appeal to each segment. 
  3. Positioning: How a brand or product is aligned within the target market. 

PESTLE or PEST Analysis 

The PESTLE/ PEST frameworks are used to explore the external environment of a company, providing an in-depth understanding of specific trends of the market from a macroeconomic perspective.
  • Political: Laws, global issues, legislation, and regulations. 
  • Economic: Taxes, interest rates, the stock markets, and consumer confidence.
  • Social: Lifestyle and buying trends, media, major events, ethics, advertising, and publicity factors.
  • Technological: Innovations, access to technology, licensing and patents, manufacturing, and global communications.
  • Legal: Legislation - both current and potential.
  • Environmental: Local and global environmental issues, and their social and political factors. 


Source: Slide Model 

S.W.O.T. is an acronym that stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. A SWOT analysis is used to investigate the internal environment of the company based on its products and services. 

Strengths and weaknesses, such as patents and reputation, are internal to the company’s reputation. Whereas opportunities and threats, like competitors, developing technologies and legislation, are part of the part of the external market.

The Marketing Mix - 7Ps and 4Ps

Source: Marketing Mix

Traditionally known as the core 4Ps of Product, Price, Place and Promotion, the 4Ps were designed at a time where businesses sold products rather than services and the role of customer service in helping brand development wasn't so well known. Nowadays, the extended ‘service mix P’s'- People, Physical environment and Processes is more commonly used when reviewing competitive strategies.

Competitor Analysis 

A Competitor Analysis framework helps to identify competitors and evaluate their strategies to determine their strengths and weaknesses. This critical aspect of any marketing strategy first identifies competitors, determines whether they are direct or indirect, categorises their products/services, profitability, growth pattern, marketing objectives and assumptions, current and past strategies, organisational and cost  structure, strengths and weaknesses, and market share.

The simplest way to make comparisons with competitor’s products and services is to make a competition grid which will clearly illustrate how your company fits into the market.

Porter's Five Forces

Source: Mind Tools

Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter published this business strategy tool in 1979, to aid with the analysis of an industry's attractiveness and likely profitability. This framework goes beyond analysing competitors by examining other factors that could impact the business environment. These five forces that make up the competitive environment, are those which could possibly erode the profitability of a company.
  1. Competitive Rivalry looks at the number and strength of competitors in terms of quality. Fierce rivalry can induce aggressive price wars and high-impact marketing campaigns. Saturated markets allow suppliers and buyers to go elsewhere if they don't perceive enough value. 
  2. Supplier Power is determined by how easily suppliers can increase their prices and how expensive it would be to switch from one supplier to another
  3. Buyer Power looks at how much power consumers have to drive down prices or switch to a rival. It is better to have many customers then only a few who you rely on.
  4. Threat of Substitution refers to the likelihood of your customers finding a substitute product or service. A substitution that is easy and cheap to make can weaken your position and threaten your profitability. 
  5. Threat of New Entry concerns how a company's position is affected by the people's ability to enter that market. Strong and durable barriers to entry allow a company to preserve their position in the market.

Value Proposition 

Finally, the most important of all is the value proposition. It is a concise business or marketing statement that a company uses to summarise why a consumer should buy a product or use a service. With aspects relating to the core and augmented product, it communicates how a product solves pains and needs, communicates the specifics of the added benefit (augmentation), and states the differentiating aspects. 

Still confused? Sign up to any of these USYD workshops to get you up to speed:

Learning Centre
For English skills as well as other topics such as note-taking, time management, etc.
Location: Level 7, Education Building A35
Maths in Business
For Maths and Excel skills.
University Library 
Make use of the library resources and find the data you need.

Career Centre
Get help applying for jobs, writing resumes, etc.
Location: Level 5, Jane Foss Russell Building

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Understanding How AI Is Disrupting The Decision-Making Process

Debate concerning the future of artificial intelligence (AI) was brought to a head this week when Facebook shut down their AI that had developed its own language. As the debate heats up over ethics and regulation, Marketing Matters looks at the potential of machine learning and how it will change the decision-making process. 

Tuesday marked the first class of the semester for the students of the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney. No time was wasted on introductions with Colin Farrell, the leading lecturer of Decision-Making and Research, delving straight to the core of bias in the decision-making process. 

Source: University of Sydney, Decision-Making and Research, Colin Farrell (2017)

While terms such as selective perception, confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance may be foreign; everyone can understand that our brains are naturally wired to create patterns to help us deal with our understanding of the world. But how will this process change when AI takes the lead in the decision-making? 

Source: University of Sydney, Decision-Making and Research, Colin Farrell (2017)

How is AI already creating value for companies?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is finally starting to deliver value to some early-adopters. Online retailers are utilising AI-powered robots to manage warehouses and inventory. Utilities forecast electricity demand using AI, and the automotive industry is beginning to harness the technology in driverless cars.

Source: Mckinsey, How Artificial Intelligence Can Deliver Real Value For Companies.

Yes, it’s true that computers are now more powerful than ever, algorithms are more sophisticated, but AI’s advancements wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for the billions of gigabytes of data collected every day. 

McKinsey Global Institute recently released a discussion paper titled, ‘Artificial intelligence: The next digital frontier?’  Of the 3,000 AI-aware companies around the world, of whom most being in digital frontier, AI was used in the core part of the value chain to increase revenue, reduce costs, and have the full support of the executive leadership

Can AI replace executive decision making?

For the moment, no. Current cognitive technologies, while great at finding patterns and making data-based predictions, have their limitations. One of which being that they are only able focus on simple problems that still require human input. As time goes on, cognitive technologies will absorb the easiest aspects of executive jobs; liberating executives from the mundane and providing them with more time to use more creatively and productively.

However, while AI adoption is imminent, executives using AI technologies are only employing it for tasks such as predictive analytics, automated written reporting and communications, and voice recognition/response.

Source: ZDNet, image rights (Bloomberg Beta)

The age of AI is upon us.

Well it’s not exactly here yet. There is a huge difference between voice-enabled digital assistants like Siri - a web search and voice interaction tool, and the level of intelligence of machine learning artificial intelligence like IBM’s Watson.

Source: IBM Innovations 

Once AI reaches a certain level, their advice would be way more accurate than than the average human’s, which means that people may defer more and more decisions to AI. Unfortunately for us humans, this means that we could gradually lose the ability to perform those tasks and make decisions by ourselves.

Is there a risk?

Earlier this week, researchers at the Facebook AI Research Lab (FAIR) found that their chatbots were communicating in a new language developed without human input. As amazing as this sounds, there are profound implications for AI.

Source: One Poll

Although AI isn’t sentient yet it could still be considered dangerous. Scientists and technology innovators such as Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Steve Wozniak have previously warned that AI could lead to unforeseen consequences. Stephen Hawking foretold back in 2014 that AI could even mean the end of the human race; stating, “It would take off on its own and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate. Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn't compete, and would be superseded.” 

Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla and SpaceX, at the Recode’s Code Conference 2016 cautioned, “If you assume any rate of advancement in AI, we will be left behind by a lot. We would be so far below them in intelligence that we would be like a pet,” he said. “We’ll be like the house cat.”

More than 8,000 people, including top AI experts, have signed an open letter urging research into ways to ensure that AI helps, rather than harms, humankind.

Five of the potential risks identified include:
  1. Loss of Privacy
  2. Development of AI-powered weapons
  3. AI Causing Harm Unintentionally or even indirectly, 
  4. Computers Turning Malevolent
  5. Robots replacing humans as the rulers of the planet 
Ok, so that last one was a worst-case scenario, but wouldn’t you rather be safe than sorry?

Ethics and AI. 

Concern over the development of AI has led to the creation of organisations like Open AI and Partnership on AI. Their goal being, "to advance digital intelligence in the way that is most likely to benefit humanity as a whole, unconstrained by a need to generate financial return."

Partnership on AI, with founding members Amazon, Facebook, Google, IBM and Microsoft, seek to support research and recommend best practices, advance public understanding and awareness of AI, and create an open platform for discussion and engagement.

Source: Reddit

In conjunction with the 2017 Asilomar conference, experts have agreed on a core set of principles to govern AI development. A key principle, for example, demands AI be developed in accordance with human values; something that will be very hard to put into practice. Another principle stipulates that the economic prosperity created by AI should be shared broadly, to benefit all of humanity. But what does that mean? 

Should we fear AI? Perhaps, but not just yet. While the risk of information overload, selective perception and confirmation bias are diminished significantly with AI, it is still possible to make bad decisions about what machine intelligence is permitted to build.

With Moore’s Law stating that processor speeds will double every two years, could computer’s intelligence eventually surpass humans? Will they succeed in eliminating bias? Or will they, as with humans, develop biases of their own?  Fortunately for us, until they are able to feel emotion or think creatively, we have nothing to fear.

Alyce Brierley
Current student from the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School.