Barbarian Group’s Benjamin Palmer at Dx3 2013: Be the Brand Editor-In-Chief

by Joseph Czikk

Brands need an editorial voice to lead “always-on” brand communications, according to The Barbarian Group’s Benjamin Palmer.

The CEO delivered the opening keynote speech during last weeks Dx3 conferenceand urged audience members to become a “brand editor-in-chief” for their company. No longer are the days where a brand would spend large amounts of money on one large campaign per year.

As we move towards a new digital battlefield in branding where social media has completely changed the landscape, explained Palmer, brands need to offer insightful content offering the company’s message bundled with cultural relevance. 

“We’ve habituated the world into thinking, ‘If I don’t get a tweet from Delta in five minutes I’m going to flip my shit,’” said Palmer. “These battles have to be dealt with on an ongoing bases and thus brands need an ‘always on’ strategy for content creation.”

So how do brands shift from the latter days of annual big-budget campaigns around one medium to multiple pieces of content spread across a variety of platforms? And with all the content, how do companies maintain the brand’s consistent message?

SEE ALSO: BBDO Wins Big in Dx3 2013 Advertising Challenge

Palmer says companies need to offer their audience interesting stories instead of furthering a sales-defined agenda. They need a brand editor-in-chief with finely tuned editorial instincts, a deep understanding of the brand voice, the big story and audience sensibility and a constant infusion of content with brand ethos.

In his talk Palmer offered 12 tips for “always-on” content creation:

1. Hold a daily meeting and discuss meaningful content every day.

2. This is not a replacement for a CMO (and could be an agency role).

3. Being relevant to a specific community or an event can get you a lot further than a big budget could: “You can get ahead of your competition if you act really quickly,” said Palmer. After Coca-Cola aired the first of a two-part super bowl ad ten days before the big game, Pepsi took advantage. Just before the super bowl they aired an ad taking jabs at the Coca-Cola commercial, resulting in about half a million more viewers than the competitor.

4. Agility starts with agile budgeting: You have to have your content and marketing plan but you also have to have production money left to react to unpredictable events.

5. News only happens once in a while and you have to plan to fill the void: Have a content calendar for the year to plan out what you’re going to do and have room to adjust in real time.

6. Consider the qualities and behaviour of your audience: “One of the things that I ask myself when I’m doing creative work is, ‘is the internet going to like this?’” said Palmer. “Yes, I know what the sales objectives are, but I have to make those who are going to see the work happy, first and foremost, or none of this will work.”

7. Amplify the good work and bury the bad: “Know that some things are going to work and some aren’t, and be comfortable with that.”

8. Have realistic expectations of content: “If you want to drive sales you cant always do that with lovely story telling, you actually have to use direct marketing strategies.”

9. Look for the beautiful medium: There’s always a place for fancy or high-end content and there’s also a lot of ground game, low-level work. “But the interesting area where you can convert people’s opinions is in the middle of the bell curve,” said Palmer. “Put your time and energy into making that middle really exciting and amazing. 

10. Get to meaningful metrics: Don’t drown in irrelevant metrics.

11. Better yet, get to one meaningful metric: If you can get to one measure of success and agree on it everyone is going to know what the goal is and where the finish line is.

12. Stick to a simple idea and then tailor it: If you tell good stories the platform is beside the point. “What we’re trying to do is tell really great stories. If you have a good story first and don’t let yourself get bogged down by the intricacies of the platforms, you’re going to be in better shape,” said Palmer. “There’s going to be a lot of ways to talk to our audience.”

Photo: Akira Ruiz

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Joseph Czikk

Joseph Czikk

Joseph Czikk is a freelance reporter currently based in Montreal. more

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