What influences the influencers?

Right. Elephant in the room time. You know those influencers you're getting to plug your products? It's not your brand they're attracted to - it's your wallets.

Your big, bulging wallets, as it turns out. Now that influencer marketing is the fastest-growing method of customer acquisition, it's become a big-money game. Twenty-five percent of brands are spending over half a million dollars on it every year. Five percent are spending over $5m. That translates to about 200 bucks for every half-arsed "Hey, guys - check out this amazing thing I've discovered" and ten grand for every "I just spent a day testing the latest doo-dah from thingumabob."

And here's the thing: it's not their fault. Bloggers gotta eat, tweeters gotta tweet. The problem isn't so much that those all-important influencers have finally woken up to the value of their influence (given that 3% of influential individuals generate 90% of impact online, did you really think they wouldn't charge for that?), the problem is that the tools you've given them - and their audiences - are woefully unfit for purpose.

I'll explain. Like any fun thing worth talking about, there's three people involved when it comes to influencer marketing. There's you,


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Time to cure your brand's Discount Code addiction

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How to wean your customers (and your marketing team) off vouchers and discount codes…

Seeing how 2015 has started with announcement after retailer announcement that excessive discounting severely dented margins in Q4, it's a good moment to consider another type of rampant discounting: ‘Discount Codes’.

Vouchers as Class A Drugs?

Indiscriminate scatter-gunning of discount codes cheapens your brand by creating a class of customer that always expects discounts.

This problem has been particularly pronounced in the casual dining industry where vouchers have been compared to Class A drugs and research from Mintel (1) found a third of British diners regularly use vouchers and a huge percentage say they will only visit chains if there is an offer.

It's just too easy for marketers to turn to the ‘quick fix’ to boost sales, but the fear that customer numbers will drop the minute the discounts disappear means it’s hard to quit. What we get is a real ‘tragedy of the commons’ where competitors discount away their margins chasing price sensitive switchers.

I am sure we all see evidence of this. How many of us have a wallet stuffed with a couple of ‘30% off’ coupons alongside some


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Is Referral Marketing Primed to Explode?

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Is Refer-a-friend marketing about to explode?

Do you remember your first steps in paid search, email and affiliate marketing?

If you started after 2009, you probably had a world class integrated platform with an intuitive interface offering all the statistics and insights you needed to amaze your boss. Whereas real early adopters had no proper tools and, for example, probably used Hotmail and mail merge for their first email campaigns. Between these two extremes, you probably would not have realised the full potential of the channel until the right tools and platforms arrived, such as Exact Target for email.  

  All new digital marketing channels seem to have followed this similar evolutionary pattern and we can see that this is happening for referral marketing, which after all is one of the oldest forms of marketing. Those old enough to remember being able to get a free drink at a bar by saying ‘Tony sent me’, probably didn’t realise it at the time but that was classic ‘friend get friend’ marketing: you got a free drink, the barman got a new customer and Tony got a kick back.

Well of course, something as good as this just had to move online,


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Singing for their supper: why casual dining needs to change

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In my wallet, I have two 30% off coupons for Pizza Express. Alongside them, I’ve got some random membership card that entitles me to 40% off at Pizza Express. Oh, and… hang on, yep, here it is: another Pizza Express saver - this time a £10 voucher earned with supermarket loyalty points. That’ll keep the toddler in “Pat A Pony” pizzas for the next few weekends (he seriously needs to learn how to pronounce the word “pepperoni”).

Thing is, I didn’t have to do anything to get these coupons. I didn’t scrub dishes in their kitchens, or win some kind of competition. I didn’t even have to like pizza (I’m ambivalent). Pizza Express just gave them to me because that’s what casual dining chains do these days. They discount. Relentlessly. Aggressively. Dementedly. To the point where it’s no longer about attracting new business or inculcating loyalty, it’s simply a matter or keeping up with the Jones. Or, to be more precise, the Garfunkels, the Carluccios and the, um, Nandoses.

The rest of retail already went through this and - thank god - is finally starting to come out the other end.


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