Author Cillian KIeran

This year at the Web Summit I was invited to speak on the death of digital marketing which is a topic I’m really passionate about.

As someone at the helm of a business that works specifically with digital technology that services large marketing driven organizations I’ve firmly believed for several years that digital marketing, or the traditional definition of this is dead.

The tenet of the presentation revolved around 7 key principles which I believe should be applied at a cross-functional level within organizations for digital success, not just within marketing;

1)  Never Fear Failure – Break with industry best practices.
Easy to say but more often than not we stick to mythology that has dictated how our industry has operated for decades. This inertia prevents us from redefining how we view our business and potentially defining the next wave of change.

2)  Assume Nothing – Question everything around you.
We’ve all been in that meeting, it’s assumed we follow these steps and we view our consumer through a lens that was defined by our predecessors. Or perhaps we brief this way because it’s “the way it’s always been done”. Don’t fall back on this – question everything, point, prod and poke until you break down the pillars of any assumption to understand what is truly driving any action in the business.

3)  Forget About Consumers – Remember real people. Humans.
It’s fascinating to me when marketers congregate to discuss their business issues. Their end customer, ultimately a person much like them is dissected, rebuilt, labeled and mutated until they’re a shadow of what they really are. Think like a naturalist and a problem solver. We’re all just human beings. Identify the real person at the root of your product(s) and understand their core issues – solve these and you’ll be truly valuable.

4)  Solve a Problem – Be an engineer. Make truly useful things.
We all talk about solving problems but often in marketing we shoehorn commercial agreements we have into solving problems that don’t really exist for our customer. This is akin to a marketing team saying – “people don’t like the taste of our xxx any more” – silence descends on the room – “how can we get people to eat more of this with our music sponsorship?”
Clearly the question here is what do we need to change about our product for people to enjoy it again, is it flavor, appearance, both or something else – sponsorship is a bandaid for a bigger product centric issue.

5)  User Experience is like Fairy Dust – Sprinkle it liberally on everything
We’re all starting to talk about apps, experiences and funnels but the reality is the majority of technology that’s built by brands is temporary and low quality. Anything you build must have the user experience of a product that’s fit for purpose. Consider this – when you build an app in the app store you’re competing for the same share of phone space as Rovio’s Angry Birds or Apple’s own weather apps. the point here is that end user’s expectations of technology have now been so finely tuned that a great user experience for a mobile banking application or a messaging solution can be the difference between a service winning or losing, even if the underlying technology is identical.

6)  Test and Learn. Fast – Rinse, wash repeat.
Test new technologies, change your operating model, move staff around, mix up the brief, introduce new thinking or ask teams how they might try to change the way they interoperate to solve a problem. More than anything, reward that willingness to test things quickly, perhaps success sometimes but equally fail, that’s all part of what will lead to success.

7)  Take (Small) Smart Risks – 10% of your Budget for Agile Experimentation.
We’ve all heard it but take a small slice of your annual budget 5% – 10% and experiment with it. Accept that not everything will work. Try new technologies, test partnerships, be first to market. None of your customers will dislike you for trying and failing – they’ll revere you for it but don’t be the laggard waiting for someone else in your category to prove a technology first.

You can see the presentation from Web Summit below or feel free to get in touch with questions. You can get me on twitter at: @cillian