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Deputy Managing Director for Zenith Optimedia and lecturer on strategy, social media and digital brand positioning at the Institut Supérieur du Commerce de Paris and the Audencia Management School in Nantes, Philippe Torloting has +10 experience working with brands to build effective media campaigns.

How does your job fit into the advertising process? I work to understand consumer behavior so I can propose my clients the best media buying and advertising strategy possible. This involves:

  1. Consumer researching

First and foremost, understand your target consumer’s mind and behavior as intimately as possible to find the right touchpoint.

  • Identify touchpoints – These are the locations where your consumers have the greatest chance of seeing and responding positively to your advertising:banner ads, search engine marketing, buying keywords, social advertising (facebook, twitter, youtube…), and emailing advertising, which brands are spending less and less on.
  • Negotiate media space – Knowing where your advertising should be located, now you must negotiate with those locations to ensure your advertising budget is maximized to gain as much exposure as possible for bottom dollar.
  • Analytics & Reporting – Monitoring and adjusting your campaign for efficiency and impact and reporting the campaign’s performance.

You said brands are spending less on email advertising; why do you think that is? This is a strong subject for brands. To answer that, consider your brand’s objectives:

  • Objective #1. Consumer acquisition (conversion): Email marketing allows you to target very precisely, but the amount of time spent writing and sending 1,000s of emails just to acquire 10 consumers makes for a low ROI when you consider other, more efficient touchpoints to acquire new customers such as programmatic, or real-time buying through companies such as Think with Google, Rocket fuel, or Audience on Demand. These companies offer the same capabilities of email marketing in terms of targeting but with a higher ROI and visibility because your message is sent through banner ads.
  • Objective #2. Loyalty & customer relationship management:Once a person has given you their email address and is in your database, emailing becomes efficient in building a long-term relationship. In this case, email is likely your best option.

What questions do you ask new brands to help them get their digital media advertising campaigns on a solid foundation?

Like playing chess, taking the first few moves at the start of your game to strategically set up your pieces allows you to be both offensive and defensive later on.

A few important questions I ask include:

  1. Who are your target audience? This is important because a good product advertised to the wrong consumer is a waste of your time and money. Some consumers know exactly what they want so they go directly to the brand’s website. Other consumers haven’t made up their mind yet, and so do generic keyword searches on Google or browse websites which compare products. Using cookies, websites can track and define what consumers are interested in, and you can tell what kind of consumer you’re dealing with by what they search for: “expensive digital camera” versus “Hasselblad 5D-200MS Digital Camera Kit H-3013666.”
  2. What is this campaign’s objective? If long-term sales are your priority, I would plan a campaign focused on collecting contact info and permission to contact them in future. If short-term sales are your priority, I would plan a campaign that focused on making a purchase. This depends on whether your market and product is a one-time purchase or repeat purchases.
  3. What kinds of brand assets, content, owned media do you have and can use? Do you have a large Facebook or Instagram community? Or a large email database? You can’t build loyalty if you don’t have something of value to offer people.

Building a reputation for my overall brand or my individual product; which is better? Your product/service is the news and your actual subject, so your first message should be about that. Give context about your product, where, when, how created and why? Focus on your product’s reputation, and your brand reputation will build itself.

Building a reputation for me – the face of my brand – or my product; which is better? It depends. Are you the product or do consumers buy your product not caring about you. Are you the face of your brand or not?

Regardless, it’s important to create a network around you to humanize and add personality to your brand and to keep an eye on your industry. Branding yourself has the added benefit of simultaneously working towards an earned media campaign because people will want you to talk and give presentations on their websites and at their public events, in lectures, etc. Brand yourself in some kind of specialized communication skill that can be transferred: becoming known as a good presenter, or organizing incredible events, or infographics. Something that makes people attracted to you and want you to be around them and are confident in sharing you with their network.

For example, Loïc Le Meur started in advertising and then went entrepreneur. All his projects and services are around him. He participates in all events, does digital consulting, then built Le Web – a huge digital convention – and built brand around his name. He’s a good example. But it can become too much because people eventually get sick of hearing about you and block you out. So don’t saturate the market with your name. Be discrete and careful.

What are 2 of your favorite advertising campaigns?

What I like about this advert is that they have a successful product campaign but they built a stong brand reputation around their product and built a strong relationship with consumers through these little humorous videos and famous celebrity actors that people love about luxury. Consumers feel like a VIP everytime they use the product.  They create a strong connection between the product, brand, and consumer.

The orchestration of all the content around the brand is smart; they build a universe around a fruit juice and more people likely prefer the universe than the actual fruit juice with all the contests and things consumers can do.

I’ve got a small advertising budget, any advice?

  • Focus on the long-term. The most important is the first contact with the client. You can build from there. After that work long-term to build a customer relationship campaign (CRM). Long-term relationship management is better than a direct sales strategy because the more you invest in a relationship strategy, the less you pay. It’s more expensive to acquire new clients to than to keep the ones you have in the long-term.
  • Test different channels. Send a few emails and if people aren’t clicking, move to Facebook advertising. If consumers aren’t responding on Facebook, move to Youtube, and so on. Create a test-and-learn customer relationship management CRM program. Go back later and retest.
  • Create a signup form with multiple subscription options (email, follow on facebook, twitter, instagram…) and see with which means of communication your readers prefer to be kept up to date.
  • Find and convince ambassadors you have a good product, and work with them to offer quality content. How do you find ambassadors? Consumers who don’t know about a particular product market trust comparative websites and blogs that rank high in Google searches. These kinds of customers may see your advertising but they’ll put more trust in an ‘opinion’ from someone seemingly knowledgeable, so work with those websites.
  • Create a product/service bundle. If you have a product, add a service, and vice versa because it’s easier for the consumer to evaluate what you offer when they can see it and feel it. For example, include with your product a service as simple as 5 Youtube videos which teach your users how to get the most out of your product in another field or use to their advantage, and encourage users to make videos of themselves using your product in cool and interesting ways.
  • Invest time working on earned media. You know your product and services the best, so the earned strategy is on your side because you are more qualified to talk about it. Offer your competence and knowledge to people in terms of speaking engagements, interviews, guest posts, etc.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Recall in our interviews, Rory Sutherland, Executive Creative Director of Ogilvy and Bérénice Goales, Client Sales Director offer advice for building effective customer relationship programs.

Also, recall in my interview with Adrien Laugher-Werth, Co-Founder of EuroBusiness Media that with some consumer demographics services are best received when you wrap a product around it. So make a product out of your service so your clients can touch it and see it. It makes it easier to pay a premium for your service when it comes along with, or at least resembles, a product.]