Sentient Orbs (2009)

Sentient Orbs (2009)

Ah, 2018. You’ve been a wild one, but it’s been a pleasure to survive you. And as 2019 draws near, now is the time for many of us to look ahead and start making New Year resolutions that will guide our business growth.


Not so for this marketer. This year, I’m looking to the past: looking at the resolutions I didn’t make, but wish I had.


Let me guide you through my marketing mistakes so you can learn from them and, hopefully, help you make stronger marketing resolutions in 2019.


We’re all guilty of it: telling tiny white lies to our customers. Maybe their package is still “in transit”, when it’s actually sitting on the warehouse floor. Or perhaps you’ll answer their query within 24 hours, when you know it’s probably more like 36.


This kind of dishonesty in business is endemic, and for years, consumers have taken it on the chin. It’s all part of business, baby — the house always wins.


But 2018 has seen the balance of power shift. In the past, brands could shrug off angry consumer sentiment and hide behind disingenuous PR.


But today, customers can use their voices and noticeably. Social platforms like Twitter provide a visible channel for disappointed consumers to loudly vent their frustration with brands.


Weak, evasive statements of apology fail to quell the flames of customer dissent. Often, things go so far that only a PR ninja could fight that fire. And the most powerful tactic in the marketer’s arsenal?




Facing up to mistakes is no small feat, and those brands that do so in 2018 are those that succeeded. As an example of this, look no further than Colonel Sanders’ own KFC.


The global chicken brand’s handling of their infamous chicken shortage earlier this year was a masterstroke in savvy marketing.


Taking out full-page apology ads in a range of major publications was a stellar move that netted them considerable PR and assuaged the millions of angry chicken-lovers across the nation. And it all hinged on sheer honesty.


New Year tip: don’t hold your customers at arm’s length — let them into your brand. Be honest and admit your mistakes. Show them that you know your flaws, but that you’re working to be better for them. It’s daunting, but it will pay dividends for your marketing and PR in 2019.


One of the overriding lessons I learned this year? It’s okay to be lazy.


Let me clarify: it’s okay to outsource your marketing to others, to people that know your brand inside out and love it as much as you do: your customers.


Customers are a fecund marketing source for your business. They are social-savvy and eager to shout about the brands, products and services they love.


The most obvious way to capitalize on customer love is through user-generated content. Throughout 2018, countless brands have used UGC campaigns to drive sales and boost consumer engagement.


During the World Cup, Copa90 partnered with Snapchat to collate fan-submitted Stories celebrating the tournament, putting them front and center to tell the World Cup story from the fan perspective. The campaign garnered 31 million unique viewers over 45 days, all off the back of voluntarily-submitted UGC.


And tech brand GoPro achieved the same success with their own branded UGC campaign, encouraging its customers to submit their best and most beautiful GoPro shots to Instagram and YouTube. The best were rewarded with a Photo of the Day repost on the brand’s Instagram, giving them recognition and credit to an audience of millions.


But it’s not just UGC. Take advantage of brand love and convert customers into brand ambassadors for some authentic (and powerful) social proof.


Reaching out to those shoppers who willingly sing your praises on social is essentially influencer marketing on a shoestring. Why pay social influencers to celebrate your brand when existing customers can do the same for less?


Identify those repeat customers who return to your brand time and again, and regularly post about their purchases online. These are your super loyal VIPs, eager to celebrate your brand.


Reach out to them and thank them for their brand love. Form a partnership that provides you with branded content in return for some freebies and a shoutout on your social feed. It’s authentic, mutually beneficial, and blesses you with some powerful social proof.


New Year tip: let your customers work for you. Marketing-savvy consumers see straight through brand messages. So when a fellow shopper takes the time to engage with and celebrate a business, they sit up and take notice.


Multichannel commerce sells where your customers are.


I’ll be the first to admit that I dropped the ball when it came to driving sales this year. I marketed my socks off, but the sales channels I used were just too limited.


Too often, our sales channels are restricted to just our online store or website, or occasionally a pop-up shop or retail storefront. We don’t make the most of the wide array of new sales channels available to us — channels customers often find more exciting.


Take your social marketing strategy, for example: social media is a key marketing channel that every business uses, but without a social sales channel that capitalizes on engagement, you’re losing out on sales.


Social selling piggybacks off of popular social platforms to generate sales where your customers are most active. Instagram in particular is a lucrative channel that drives massive sales through visual and engaging marketing. The platform is easy to market on and highly popular with customers, so failure to monetize it is just shooting yourself in the foot — whether you’re a small store or enterprise brand, Instagram has your back.


New Year tip: this year, to save you from tears, expand your reach and upgrade to a multi-channel sales strategy. Sales should sprawl multiple channels to reap the biggest rewards. With so many strong commerce options open to businesses, failure to do so isn’t lack of resources — it’s just laziness.


Let’s be realistic. You probably won’t join the gym, you’ll start smoking again when those deadlines roll around, and your Netflix subscription will still get just as much use as it did last year.


But marketers, take heed: 2019 is your year. Don’t make the same mistakes I did. Admit your faults, embrace multichannel, and take advantage of the content powerhouses that are your customers to make 2019 your year.


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Jace lumley

This month, we feature the ultra-charming photographer, Jace Lumley. The photos which decorate this month’s issue were captured in Rio, Brazil and Seoul, Korea: Two focal locations on his most recent travel project. His images convey a wanderlust, making us wish we were anywhere but here. With his bum in the butter, Jace’s upbeat perspective and adventurous take on life has gifted him countless opportunities. With serendipity on his side, there is no where he can’t go.

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5 stellar tips for your next pop-up

There is a lot that goes into making a pop up successful. In 2018, Self Employed, either produced, designed, staffed or operated over 12 pop ups for a variety of brands ranging from direct to consumer make up mogul Kylie Cosmetics to Ember, creators of the first ever temperature control mug. Along the way, we have learned a thing or two about what makes a pop-up retail installation successful.

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flo vitamins says: F**K PMS

Meet Bobby Bitton. He and his sister Brianna Bitton are on to something, well, huge. Meet FLO Vitamins: A revolutionary first-to-market gummy vitamin, that’s not only delicious, but it f**cking works. They swear that this ritual will lead to the end of your PMS.

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There were a lot of terrible things that happened in 2018, but one positive that came out of the year was the growing conversation around, and acknowledgement of, sexual harassment in many areas of our culture.

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This seems familiar...bold accent colors, gradient pastels, ironic fonts, minimalistic logos. In the past few months, it seems like every ad I'm being fed on Instagram is for a new D2C millennial focused brand with these design blueprints.



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This podcast was first published in May 2018.

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