When is marketing like spycraft?

The Drum 24 Sep 2020 03:30
By Simon Pont-24 September 2020 16:30pm

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BLiX reflect on the epiphanies that take place in meeting rooms.

John le Carré once observed, “A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world.” Of course, he was talking about spy craft, not marketing. Turns out, in the case of marketing, sometimes the inverse of le Carré’s tenet can be true.

So as much as I stand by the companion credo, “A meeting room is an unlikely place in which to have an epiphany”, it just so happened to be in a meeting room where the idea for BLiX first pinged.

What transpired was that TfL use a sizeable chunk of their own Out-of-Home inventory to talk to commuters. For ‘chunk’, at the time, we’re talking around £50m in media value. For context, a £50m a year ‘spend’ in print and digital posters actually puts TfL north of Coca Cola and McDonald’s as the UK’s heaviest outdoor advertiser. With such a serious media inventory to showcase your message, you don’t want people drifting past it like magnolia-coloured wallpaper.

It was both glaringly simple and yet seemingly not. Why not get all those posters working to rebuild your CRM database? From assets in isolation that don’t join up or particularly work together, why not an ecosystem of assets that play to some genuine gestalt? Why not join everything up? Different agencies and teams were being wheeled in, one after the other, talking brand, media, CRM, and there was no lynchpin. It was all silo chatter.

Shaping the BLiX proposition, defining the product, pitching for funding. That happened quickly. Product development, market testing with marketers, debugging, building a bespoke back-end platform, baking in all the encryption tech, going from MVP to Fully Viable Product, that took a little longer.

Epiphany Number two wasn’t in a meeting room, but in a Waitrose. A lovely old lady with a clip board asking shoppers for their email addresses. A one-women attempt to rebuild John Lewis Group’s CRM in the fallout of GDPR. “That’s how they’re trying to fix it?”

Then, as now, BLiX is not about rocking the apple cart, but it is about helping improve the quality of the apples. It’s about a smart and simple way to fix a set of challenges. (You may have noted the gear-shift in tense - because we’re now all caught up and in the present.)

How will BLiX fare? I have no clue! Sure, we have high hopes and bold ambitions; there’s a lot to like about it. We think it makes infinite sense. Ticks a ton of boxes for marketers and consumers alike. But only time will ultimately tell.

  • An honest broker RMP (‘relationship management platform)’: tick.
  • Fuelled by the digitisation of press and poster ads, but where that digital trigger can be similarly applied to physical POS, product packaging, and the product itself: tick and tick.
  • Where the above is just the “Marketing IoT” dimension, because a brand’s digital assets can just as easily be BLiX-enabled: tick, tick, tick.

Imagine if every poster and print ad, in consequence of being born digital, could become a CRM driver?

Imagine if we could resolve GDPRs decimation of CRM lists and the marketing communities questionable approach to “relationship marketing” as pushing emails into people’s Inboxes?

If you clicked and watched the whole 100 seconds, I hope you liked it. Long-short: advertising is changing. Change of the welcome kind. Where everything can become the right kind of brand response, can carry a call-to-action that can become the start of a lifetime customer conversation. Which also means it’d be remiss of me to sign-off here without practicing what we’re preaching.

Simon Pont, CEO of BLiX and co-founder of Big Blue.

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John le CarrBLiXGDPRLondonJohn Lewis Group
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