Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Why We Should All Pay Attention To Blockchain

If you haven’t already heard of Blockchain or how it’s disrupting technology and industries, then it’s time to take note. With promises of increased accountability and transparent record keeping, smart contracts, secure decentralised payment systems, and token-based communities, Blockchain is set to bring about change, whether you like it or not.

At the University of Sydney’s Business School, students are taught how to challenge conventional thinking to remain agile in a constantly changing environment. Which is why students in the Master of Marketing program learn how to identify disruptive technologies and trends using a range of frameworks and underlying theories to help the brands they represent stay ahead of the game.

What is a Blockchain? 

Since its creation by the anonymous and illusive founder, Satoshi Nakamoto, Blockchain has meant a lot of things to a lot of people. But one of its principle applications is in the infrastructure behind Bitcoin. While it may just be the most revolutionary technology since the Internet, according to Martech Today, it’s essentially a distributed spreadsheet or ledger than is simultaneously maintained with no central data storage.

Authors of Blockchain Revolution, Don and Alex Tapscott, go one step further with their definition, describing it as an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.

Unlike centralised financial institutions, there is no main body issuing funds, controlling the market or dictating how money is transferred. Simply put, digital currencies- or crypto-currencies, like Bitcoin, are actually accounting systems that can’t be co-opted or neutralised.

Instead, information exists as a shared and continually reconciled database, duplicated across a network of computers using the network. BlockGeeks write, ‘’The Blockchain database isn’t stored in any single location, meaning the records it keeps are truly public and easily verifiable. No centralised version of this information exists for a hacker to corrupt. Hosted by millions of computers simultaneously, its data is accessible to anyone on the Internet.’’

How is Blockchain disrupting global financial institutions?

Although you might just be learning of it, Blockchain is by no means a new technology. It is essentially a combination of asymmetric cryptography (public/private keys encryption, which is how the Internet is secured today) and distributed systems. Whispers of it were heard back in the 1990’s when the world wasn’t ready. Enter a world, post GFC, where the timing was ripe. It was clear to all that it was time to disrupt global financial institutions and create a fairer system of sending value over the Internet.

The Bitcoin Protocol, as described by Abdelmajid Erramiline in his post Bitcoin: a cryptocurrency revolution, differentiates itself from conventional currencies that are based on fixed quantity of metal or fiat currencies.

Instead, Bitcoin is:
  • Decentralized 
  • Easy to set up and it is fast 
  • Pseudonymous 
  • Transparent 
  • Minimal transaction fees 
  • Immutable and no duplicable transactions 
Since its invention in 2008, the Bitcoin blockchain has operated without any issues aside from those originating from human error or mal-intention. It’s robust, like the Internet, which has proven to be durable for around 30 years now. This is in part due to the fact that it possesses the ability to store blocks of information that are identical across its network. This decentralised peer-to-peer network protects against double spending by verifying each transaction added to the blockchain.

How could Blockchain change marketing & advertising?

As marketers and advertisers, we are constantly on the lookout for disruptive technologies and their impact on different industries. Which is why it’s important to take note of its adoption in these early stages.

Digiday explains some possible applications for the technology:
  • Customer relationship management 
  • Payment methods like multiparty payments and user ID verification 
  • Ad delivery verification 
  • Immutable contracts with consumers 
  • Transparent management of consumer 
  • Product authenticity verifications i.e. sustainability, authenticity, background or point of origin

When making online transactions, the whole process is closely connected to identity verification. It is easy to imagine that wallet apps will transform in the coming years to include other types of identity management. This possibility is perfectly summarised by William Mougayar, author The Business Blockchain: Promise, Practice, and Application of the Next Internet Technology , “Online identity and reputation will be decentralized. We will own the data that belongs to us.”

Who will use Blockchain technology?

If you aren’t already blown away by its obvious benefits, let me lay it out straight for you. The most obvious benefit to this technology is a more secure global payment system. So when we ask, ‘Who will use it?’ We can assume that it includes pretty much anyone and everyone who needs to pay for consumer goods.

The World Bank estimated that over $430 billion US in money transfers were sent in 2015 alone. One huge drawcard here is the ability to cut out the middle-man and all the accompanying fees. With the invention of ‘wallet’ applications for smartphones that allow people to make purchases with cryptocurrencies, and physical Bitcoin Cash distributers, Bitcoin can now be used by anyone and everyone to buy things electronically. Making it no different from conventional dollars.

In countries where governments have mismanaged the economy, causing hyperinflation, the benefits for consumers are increased tenfold. Because Bitcoin has the ability to be transferred across borders with no middleman and minimal fees, it’s the obvious choice for transferring money and paying for goods.

Luke Anderson, Lecturer at the University of Sydney and Director at Sigma Prime, explains how decentralised technologies are shifting the power dynamic away from the corporation and towards the individual:

"Traditionally, we've had no choice but to place a great deal of trust in organisations, and the judicial system that is tasked with keeping them honest. Now, decentralised technologies, such as blockchains, provide a game-changing alternative that enables us to place trust in technologies and mathematics which cannot be manipulated by any company or collective. This effectively shifts the power dynamic away from large corporations and towards the individual."

According to Deloitte, blockchain technology has the potential to disrupt industries such as financial services, remaking business practices such as accounting and auditing, and enabling new business models. So if strategists, planners and decision makers across industries and business functions want to keep their jobs in the future, they should already be investigating applications of the technology to avoid surprises.

Although it isn’t yet clear how this technology will be adopted across industries, it is obvious that innovation will likely change the future of transactions. Start-ups and even banks are beginning to adopt blockchain, which is why it is important for us to pay close attention.

Alyce Brierley

Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Friday, 15 September 2017

Why I Chose The Master Of Marketing

As a student at the University of Sydney Business School's Master of Marketing program, I’m confident that at the completion of my degree, I will have developed skills to take on a central role in helping to resolve marketing issues and critical business decisions head-on.

The University of Sydney Business School, in collaboration with esteemed business leaders, developed the program to ensure that its graduates are qualified to meet the real needs of contemporary business. With a focus on interaction, collaboration, dynamism and real-time problem solving, Master of Marketing graduates are prepared to be leaders of the future. The program’s innovative curriculum makes it one of the most cutting-edge, industry-relevant marketing degrees in Australia, combining world-class teaching, theory and applied learning in real-world business contexts.

The Abercrombie Building, home of the Master of Marketing, University of Sydney.
Photographer: Trevor Mein

If you are considering taking a step towards learning the practical skills and knowledge that will transform your career, keep reading to find out why current students in the program chose this life-changing degree.

Mike Joyce
Current student in the Masters of Marketing Program 

I chose the Masters of Marketing program at the University of Sydney to build upon my marketing experience and study the latest academic thinking. I dropped in at an Open Day and met Colin Farrell, the Unit of Study Coordinator of the Master of Marketing. After a short conversation, I knew this was the high standard of teaching and expectations that I was after. I could not have imagined the wonderful friendships that I have already formed in just a few months. The diverse group leads to incredible innovation, creativity and opportunities. I am proud of the work we have produced to date, and I feel lucky to have such amazing colleagues in the unit!

Master of Marketing students at the Semester 2 Orientation event.

Nicole Bernstein
Current student in the Masters of Marketing Program 

I wanted to become an expert in my field. Marketing is so diverse, and I wanted a well-rounded education supporting me in any role that I took on. Understanding various marketing processes from start to finish, and their long-term effects on a brand were especially important to me. Specifically, a good balance of creativity and technical aspects like research and reporting were key factors in my decision to study at the University of Sydney.

Hazel Chen
Current student in the Masters of Marketing Program

I chose to study a Masters of Marketing at the University of Sydney because I though it would be a good chance to go back student life, and this time to be more dedicated to my work. The University of Sydney has offered me the chance to get in contact with students who have different backgrounds. I have learnt how to express myself in a better way, and rid myself of my regular mindset. The robust teaching facilities and wonderful learning environment that’s fostered by the teaching team makes the University of Sydney one of the best universities. I am confident that it will forever remain a special life experience with good memories and true friends.

Lecture theatre in the Abercrombie Building, home of the Master of Marketing at the University of Sydney.

Tom Parish
Current student in the Masters of Marketing Program 

I chose the University of Sydney to study a Master of Marketing because I had a lack of theoretical business knowledge. Coming from a background in neuroscience and being thrust into marketing management positions from graduation, I experienced a lot of failure and stress. Having a foundation in advanced marketing and management concepts is absolutely crucial in building a successful career and business, and this program has already proved to enhance my professional prospects within the first semester of study.

Future leaders coming up in the world in the Abercrombie Building.

Ayesha Hossain
Current student in the Masters of Marketing Program 

I chose to study a Masters of Marketing at the University of Sydney because I wanted a career change. I have worked in the accounting industry for few years dealing with numbers. I know how to allocate and record revenue but I wanted to know more about how to generate it. I wanted to master the skills of marketing which is the key driver of any business that brings money. I am particularly interested in consumer behaviour and brand management and plan to pursue a PhD after completing this cutting edge degree.

Collaborative learning spaces in the Abercrombie Building.

Bowie Chen
Current student in the Masters of Marketing Program

I chose to study a Masters of Marketing at the University of Sydney because it has a great reputation worldwide. Its small class setting with people from different industries, nationalities and backgrounds attracted me the most. In order to pursue my career path further in consulting field, the Master of Marketing has provided me with great networking opportunities. It was through one of the guest speakers that, I got my first consulting job in Australia! It’s an international environment, with excellent professors and fellow students. All the inspiring ideas, encourage me to keep learning and be a better person every day.

The University of Sydney is ranked first in Australia and fourth in the world for graduate employability in the QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2017 and 2018. In addition, the 2017 QS World University Rankings by Subject placed the University of Sydney in the top 40 in the world in business and management.

For more testimonials or to find out how to apply, follow the links or visit the Master of Marketing webpage.

Robert Brunning, Master of Marketing '16

Alyce Brierley
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Monday, 11 September 2017

Top 5 Social Media Platforms of 2017

Jo Nash-Clulow, University of Sydney Business School (2017)

While social media marketing only ranks #5 on Smart Insight’s top rated digital marketing techniques of 2017, it continues to be one of the most valuable tools for brands to connect with their audiences. But with so many different platforms available, whether you are a MoM student at the University of Sydney, an entrepreneur, small business, or even working in a large corporation, it can be difficult to know just how many you actually need.

First you need to ask yourself three questions:

  1. Who is your audience?
  2. How can you reach them?
  3. What are your goals?
Source: Social Media Marketing, Which Platform Should You Use? (2016)

Keep reading to find out what the top five social media platforms are, along with their pros & cons, and the type of audience they can help you reach. 

Source: Smart Insights (2017)

1. Facebook

To date, Facebook has a social network of over 1.31+ billion users located around the globe. This huge audience base is made all the more accessible, as it incorporates most of the features of its competitors all in one place. Brands and users are able to share photos, videos, links and instant messages with pretty much anyone. But what that also means is that its highly saturated with brands, advertisers, click bait and complex algorithms that can often hinder as well as help when it comes to reaching your target audience.

2. LinkedIn

Number two on the list is none other than LinkedIn. If your target audience consists of business oriented or corporate fellows, this is the channel for you. The corporate brands that are capitalising on this platform provide a place for current and potential customers to network, connect and share ideas. There are around 380 million users, with 79% of those being either Gen X or Baby Boomers, making this the second largest social media platform in the world. The good news is that since it’s mostly used for networking, you don’t have to post something every day. A few times per week is enough, but be sure to read and interact with other’s posts if you aren’t sharing anything of your own.

3. Instagram

All hail Instagram! This social sharing site is all about connecting with consumers in a way they can relate by curating an ‘image’, or visual story, based on pictures, videos and #hashtags. Considering that mobile is rated #4 on the list of the top rated marketing techniques, this primarily mobile app boasts easy scrolling with minimal text, no links and stunning photography that is the perfect tool for marketers, brand advocates and influencers alike. While there is less personalised engagement than other networks, you can still get a lot of attention and grow an email list. The reach is extended tenfold thanks to the ability to search for hashtags and follow brands, celebs and influencers.  

4. Google+

Google+ can’t quite compete with Facebook, but this social network built by Google sure does have its perks. It might surprise you that it has around 300 million users and interestingly, 51% of those users are men! This platform features communities, the capacity to build circles, as well as my favourite- Google Hangouts, which is a great option if you can’t make it to a meeting in person. Brands who are actively using Google+ find that their ranking on Google search results improves significantly. Not to mention, that while there aren’t as many active brands, the ones that are tend to have a great following thanks to circles.

5. Twitter

The preferred social media platform of the US President, Donald Trump, Twitter is a micro-blogging social site that has continued to grow steadily over the years. The limited character posts don’t have to be a time-sucker either- you can put together a post while you are lining up for your morning coffee. With 289 million users, 29% of whom are millennials, the social network’s largest penetration is in the USA, but is gaining popularity in Oz. Users benefit from an instant news source and influencers, but with such a high volume of content, it can be hard to make an impact unless you are a dedicated user. Posting 1-2 times per day is optimal - especially with images. In his book 101 Plus Tips to Grow Your Web Traffic, Jeff Bullas illustrates how upping engagement with tweets accompanied by images can be increased by 111%! 

So there you have the top 5 social media platforms for marketing. Once you have done some form of segmentation and worked out what your goals are, you can start to break down which platforms are best for you. While it might be tempting to open accounts for all of them, unless your sole occupation is as a social media manager then you probably won’t have the time. The good news is that it isn’t necessarily time that you need to grow a business or brand following - it’s a strategy.
And most brands need no more than four carefully selected platforms cultivated to give the most value possible to the right audience. 

Roberto Blake, creative entrepreneur, owner and Creative Director of Create Awesome Media, LLC, suggests managing your time effectively, being comfortable with the platform, being creative, and playing your strengths. If you have no experience using video, then maybe don’t go for YouTube, opt for Instagram, or content marketing instead. 

For more information about choosing the right social media platform, watch the video below.

Alyce Brierley
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Friday, 8 September 2017

The Value of Unlearning For The Future

Unlearn criminal. Unlearn love. Unlearn truth. Unlearn medicine. Unlearn threat. Unlearn drought. Unlearn classroom. Unlearn career path.

University of Sydney ‘Unlearn’ campaign image (2017)

The University of Sydney’s undergraduate campaign’s message, ‘Unlearn’, is as bold as it is different. In the past, the leading university’s more moderate message was to simply, ‘think outside the square’. This new campaign goes one step further by differentiating USYD as a revolutionary education provider that is not only relevant now, but will continue to be in the future. But what does it mean to unlearn? The Discipline of Marketing Director, Vince Mitchell explains,

"We used to learn based on the theory in textbooks, but now we are asked to unlearn that behaviour and learn in a different way. In marketing, segmentation was taught as a starting point for a marketing plan, but at the University of Sydney, that learned behaviour is also challenged. So we can talk about the learning process which we unlearn as well as marketing myths which we get people to unlearn."

Why unlearn?

The campaign message prompts us to think about how we spend our whole lives learning how to operate within the constructs of the social ‘norm’. But we take for granted the fact that not everyone has learned how to challenge their own assumptions and beliefs. There is value in being able to unlearn things, more specifically those old assumptions about the world which are no longer useful , the best answer or misleading. Or as the University says it, ‘’To be brave enough to question the world, challenge the established, demolish social norms and build new ones in their place.’’

University of Sydney ‘Unlearn’ campaign image (2017)

For a long time now there has been criticism of the modern university system. With some going as far as saying that ‘to save higher education, we need to get radical.’ Now, while I wouldn’t exactly say that the University of Sydney is radical, I believe that it has risen to these criticisms and endeavoured to actively take part in reshaping it, by preparing students for an uncertain and constantly changing future.

"We’ve reimagined the way we teach, so our students can reimagine the world."
Unlearn, University of Sydney (2017)

University of Sydney ‘Unlearn’ campaign image (2017)

Unlearning for the future.

At the University of Sydney’s Business School, our professors give us the tools to question everything we know, to understand the biases that underpin our decisions and underlying beliefs. We essentially learn how to re-write the rulebook to fit into the context of now and the future.

University of Sydney ‘Unlearn’ campaign image (2017)

The World Economic Forum estimates that the job market of the future will be very different from today. Throughout their careers, most current university students will have changed jobs at least seven times in their lives, while almost 5 million current jobs in Australia are expected to become obsolete by 2030.

So if you consider these changes along with the connectedness of the world today, it’s easy to understand how the way students learn and think is changing too. This campaign isn’t just words; the message goes all the way to the core of the university’s values. The teachers live and breathe these values, you can feel it in the curriculum, they lessons they teach, the discussions they facilitate.

In the Master of Marketing, we have come to know this as internal marketing. And I must say that as an advocate for the University of Sydney, I think they have it spot on.

Unlearning education.

Since my undergraduate degree, the classroom has changed quite a bit. Now I’m not exactly old. Circa 2005, we still had the interactive whiteboards, projectors and an online blackboard, but since then the whole learning experience has gotten so much more collaborative and hands-on.

From a marketing perspective, I can see that USYD is leveraging one of its most dynamic capabilities- the classroom. To see what I mean, take a look at this news article from the university website:

"Today, the classroom is flexible, creative, and agile – our students are logging in and learning from all over the globe. The modern tutorial room, lecture theatre and laboratory are still hives of activity."

But it’s not just about unlearning everything you know. It’s also important to point out that even if it’s through trial and error, there is always a benefit for learning new things as we explore and exploit new information.

The new curriculum emphasises the importance of social and ethical considerations, global perspectives, transformational classrooms, open learning environments and collaborative spaces- all of which directly appeal to the target audience’s social needs for connectedness.

So if we think about this undergraduate campaign and what it means in terms of the University of Sydney’s marketing strategy, we can see how they are leveraging their highly trained academic staff, dynamic curriculum, state of the art facilities, innovative technologies, brand equity, strategic partnerships and even their highly trained university graduates- which all lead to a sustainable competitive advantage.

I can say that after the six week intensive training with Margaret Matanda in Innovative Marketing Strategies, it’s hard not to notice these things anymore. I will never look at a poster in the train station the same way again.

For more information about the University of Sydney’s new curriculum, check out the article, 5 Ways The Classroom Has Changed Since You Were At Uni.

Alyce Brierley
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Why CX Is Important For Marketing

Developments in digital technology, the connectivity of society, and evolving consumer trends have all impacted the marketing industry. As a result, customers are seeking personalised experiences.

Perfecting the ability to understand the customer through personalisation has long been a focus of marketers. Gone are the days of ‘one size fits all’ when it was enough to rely on price differentiation or product features alone. Now, customers want a positive and rewarding experience during their purchase.

In the Master of Marketing program, students are quick to learn importance of reviewing the customer journey and identify touchpoints to increase the value offered.

What Is CX?

Customer experience, referred to as ‘CX’, describes the many interactions a customer has with your organisation, the goal of which is to ensure that the experience offered to your audience is positive, memorable and aligned with the brand’s image.

It’s also a key differentiator for companies to set themselves apart from their competitors. Yes, product quality, features and price are still important, but more so now is customer service.

According to the findings from ‘The Path To 2020: Marketers Seize The Customer Experience’, a report by Economist Intelligence Unit and commissioned by Marketo, by 2020, it is expected CMOs will match this understanding with direct action that drives engagement.
Is CX the key to innovative success?
Due to the fact that audiences are becoming resistant to mass media promotions, we need to formulate innovative marketing strategies that focus more on brand loyalty, preference and advocacy. This starts with a positive journey within an organisation, which it turn equates to more engagement and increased word-of-mouth .

There are two main reasons why CX is such a powerful driver for business success:
  • Promotional ‘above-the-line’ advertising is becoming less effective in reaching an audience, and
  • People are connected to some form of device almost every hour of the day, which means that they make decisions based on opinions of those in their social network
Opinions matter.
Every consumer has a voice and thanks to technology and increased expectations, it’s commonplace for them to leave testimonials ad ratings about their experiences online. Their opinions do matter, and the impact they have on the rest of your audience is significant.
  • 68% of consumers use social networking sites to read product reviews (Vocus)
  • 72% of consumers trust online reviews equally as much as personal recommendations (Search Engine Land)
  • 90% of consumers’ buying decisions are influenced by positive online reviews (Dimensional Research).
Personalised experiences create value for customers.

With automation, content, AI and CRM software at our fingertips, it’s easier than ever to engage with our audiences and drive results. Effective CX strategies leverage these technologies alongside external channels; such as social media and mobile web and apps, to create highly targeted and personalised customer experiences.

The sum of these tactics can help acquire and retain customers, increase brand loyalty, convert customers to advocates and extend their overall customer lifetime value to increase revenue.

Mapping the customer journey.

But giving customers what they want isn’t just about delivering tailored content, products and services. To better understand your audience, first it’s important to understand their pains and gains by completing frameworks to gain a deeper understanding of their journey. This unique perspective is attained only after completing a consumer profile or customer journey map.

To track their overall experience, it’s important to break down each phase of the journey, whether that’s consideration, evaluation, purchase, consumption or review,

Then and only then can we identify touchpoints to increase added value.

Knowing your audience has never been more important. Understanding the customer is one step towards creating a strategy that goes beyond the scope of customer channels and instead considers a more comprehensive approach of each interaction.
Alyce Brierley
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Friday, 1 September 2017

Airbnb and The Age of Co-Creation

As the poster child of the share-economy, Airbnb is expanding its offering by pushing the boundaries of the service industry through creativity, collaboration and innovation. This strategic approach makes Airbnb a prime example of how businesses today can seize opportunities to create more value for customers.

MoM students, at the University of Sydney, might remember how last semester in Internal Marketing, with Pennie Frow, we explored the benefits of co-creation. You can probably answer these next questions, but for the others, you might be wondering - what is co-creation? And how is it changing the landscape of contemporary business?

What is co-creation?

Co-creation is essentially an interactive and mutually beneficial process of resource sharing and innovation with an enhanced stakeholder - or customer market focus. Companies with a holistic approach to employing these processes internally are able to foster an environment of collaboration; opening a realm of possibilities for not only firms, but the different customer markets of the company.

In this day and age, the change of focus from products to services has ushered in a new, innovative approach to service design practices, ultimately becoming the principle way of working.

The peer-to-peer accommodation platform, Airbnb, recognises that partnering with other high profile organisations presents the opportunity for enhanced value creation. These strategic alliances mobilise an otherwise passive audience into active co-producers and presents countless opportunities to capitalise on the creative potential of stakeholders by engaging them through participation.

To give you a better idea of how exactly they are achieving this, let’s take a look at some examples.

Airbnb & Sweden's Tourism Campaign.

Let’s go back to May earlier this year, when Sweden listed the whole country on Airbnb. Do you remember that? The official tourism board of the country, Visit Sweden, partnered with Airbnb to co-design an online video ad for the campaign. The partnership, which was the first of its kind for Airbnb, introduced viewers to the nation’s Right to Roam Act, which allows people full access to walk, cycle and camp on the nation’s public land for free.

James McClure, general manager Northern Europe at Airbnb explained, “It is designed to promote Sweden as a destination through the power of the Airbnb community which is perfectly placed to showcase the many extraordinary locations to stay throughout the country.”

Mercedes Benz relationship experience design. 

As a consumer favourite in its own right, Airbnb is further increasing its reach and disrupting the hotel and accommodation industry by building high-profile partnerships with big brands such as Mercedes-Benz.

At the beginning of August, 2017, to promote its new Marco Polo Activity van via the #MarcoPoloActivity social push, Mercedes-Benz Vans gave Airbnb users the chance to spend a night in the brand new Marco Polo Activity van on Cockatoo Island. The five-to seven-seater van has a roof that pops up and back seats that fold down for sleeping.

Ikea & Airbnb's sleepover campaign. 

Ikea’s partnership with Airbnb, saw them co-create a campaign, to promote Ikea bedroom solutions, by hosting three families overnight in its Tempe, Sydney store. The campaign, won its agencies a Webby Award in the social/events category, involved turning the store into a bed and breakfast that included three bedrooms, a communal dining area and a kids’ play room.

With a media spend of literally zero, branded content and advertising agency, The Monkeys, along with PR agency, Mango, co-designed the campaign for Ikea, which reached a PR audience of nearly 800 million.

Fly There, Live There collaboration with Qantas. 

This world-first partnership offered Australian travellers the chance to earn Qantas frequent flyer points when they booked stay their Airbnb via Delivered in the form of a series of videos, the promotional clips featured Qantas flight attendants explaining the features of various Airbnb accommodation listings in the style of an in-flight safety demonstration, as well as ‘fly there. live there’ campaign material.

In recognising the different touchpoints within the customer journey, both Qantas and Airbnb were able to come together and embrace a modern consumption model. Recognising that customers were just as likely to arrange an Airbnb as they were to book a hotel, Qantas and Airbnb took the opportunity to reward their customers. “The way that people around the world plan, book and experience travel is changing rapidly with the digital revolution,” says Qantas CEO Alan Joyce.

Airbnb has identified and capitalised on the rapidly growing trends of customers seeking personalised experiences, experiential marketing, and the incorporation of digital technologies. CEO and co-founder Brian Chesky highlights Airbnb’s ability to offer unique experiences - something which could only be described as a dynamic capability.

In the near future, the company will undergo some fundamental changes as they expand their offering and react to changes in the marketing environment. In adding experiences and much more to the platform, it will be exciting to see how Airbnb will continue to use innovation and co-creation to stay ahead of the game.

Alyce Brierley
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Lexicon Branding

Have you ever wondered how some brands manage to stand the test of time, while others transcend time and language entirely? Think Google, Uber, Kleenex or even Jacuzzi. What do all of these brands have in common? Why, they have become part of the English language’s lexicon!

What is lexicon branding?
Lexicon branding is the art of creating brand names that become synonymous with the product they represent. So much so, that people use them as the go-to word for said product or they create an entirely new word or expression.

How many of you can relate to this anecdote by Marketing Mag’s Jason Dooris:

‘’I was Hoovering the other day, and all the dust in the air had me reaching for a Kleenex. Unfortunately, we were all out, so I Googled the closest store that sold them, scribbled the address down with a Biro, then Uber’d my way over there – although not before my wife reminded me to pick up some Vaseline and Onesies.’’

Many of these brands have become so integrated into our language that many of us aren’t aware that they began as trademarks.

Good brands don’t use other brand’s intellectual property.
As you can imagine, such companies are protective of their intellectual property, and while it may be a marketer’s dream, some companies don’t welcome having their product enter the common vocabulary.

Take Gerber and its Onesies. I know a few ‘adult’ people who think they own a Onesie, but actually they have what’s called an ‘adult bodysuit’. Calling it a Onesie infringes intellectual property rights and the shop it was bought from could be in trouble if they said otherwise.

Not a onesie, but an adult body suit.

According to the company, “Gerber Childrenswear is proud of the outstanding name recognition of Onesies® brand in the marketplace (95%) and will continue to be aggressive in protecting our trademark”. “The Onesies® trademark, or any variation thereof (i.e. Onesie), cannot be used as a generic descriptor and should only be used when referring to the Onesies® brand by Gerber®.”

One would think that any brand awareness is good brand awareness, but that isn’t always the case. In 2006, shortly after ‘google’ made it to the pages of the Oxford English Dictionary, the company published a blog post seeking to clarify how and when you can Google:

“A trademark is a word, name, symbol or device that identifies a particular company’s products or services. Google is a trademark identifying Google Inc and our search technology and services. While we’re pleased that so many people think of us when they think of searching the web, let’s face it, we do have a brand to protect, so we’d like to make clear that you should please only use ‘Google’ when you’re actually referring to Google Inc and our services.”

So unless you are googling on Google, you can’t use the trademark. If you want to use another search engine, like Yahoo, you must use the verb ‘search’.

What’s in a name?
Lexicon branding is the ultimate marketing tool for reaching such a level of market saturation that the name of your company or product becomes synonymous with – or even replaces – a centuries-old word. However, while there are hundreds, if not thousands of brands whose names have become the standard verb that defines the market they have helped create, some are more effective than others. Let’s take a look at a few:

1. Google

By far the most famous lexicon brand, the verb
‘google’ made its way into most major dictionaries in 2006. Google completely defined the search engine market it helped to create. To google something simply means to use a search engine, regardless of which one.

2. Uber 

American online transportation network company, Uber has largely replaced ‘taxi’ or ‘cab’ in the markets where the ride-sharing service has taken off. But originally, the German word, Über means "above", "about", "over", or "across".

3. Onesies

Onesies is a brand trademark owned by Gerber Childrenswear, meaning a body suit for children.

4. Biro

The humble Biro was subject to a British patent in 1938, filed by its creator, Hungarian journalist Laszlo Biro.

5. Rollerblades

Who knew that Rollerblades are actually a brand for in-line skates? Rollerblades, the company (and term) were founded in 1983 by Scott and Brennan Olson. Since then, they have made many innovations in the skate-shoe, including an active brake and decreased weight.

6. Scotch Tape

What sounds better - pressure-sensitive invisible tape or Scotch Tape? Richard Drew created Scotch Tape in 1925 at a company called Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing. These days, we know the company as 3M; Scotch Tape’s name remains the same.

7. Velcro

Let’s face it, Velcro rolls of your tongue much easier than mechanical-based fastening product. Created in the 1940s and trademarked in 1958 by Swiss engineer George de Mestral, the French words for velvet (“velour”) and hook (“crochet”) were combined to make Velcro. Perhaps that’s why the Velcro company has thrived for the past 75 years.

8. Sharpie

Back in 1964, the marker industry was booming, according to Sharpie, the “first pen-style permanent marker.” The company took advantage of its celebrity status by getting celebrity endorsements from Johnny Carson and Jack Parr.

9. Bandaid 

What is an adhesive bandage? Oh, you mean bandaid! Bandaids were invented in 1920 by Johnson and Johnson and they still remain the first thing someone will ask for when they have a cut, scrape or wound.

10. Hoover

Finally there is Hoover. Infinitely more entertaining than vaccuming, Hoovering is a verb owned by American vacuum cleaner company. During the early and mid 20th century, Hoover dominated the electric vacuum cleaner industry to the point where the "Hoover" brand name became synonymous with vacuum cleaners and vacuuming.

So how hard is it to get a brand in the lexicon?
It’s harder than you think. In an article about The Art – And Science – Of Creating A Brand Name, Susan Krashinsky Roberson, from The Globe and Mail, explains how popular brands become household names.

David Placek, the founder of Sausalito, Californian-based Lexicon Branding Inc. specialises in giving brands their names. The creator of household names such as Swiffer, Dasani, and here in Canada, BlackBerry explains just how important a name is.

“Just how important is a name? My simple answer to this is, nothing will be used for a longer period of time or more often than a company’s name,” Mr. Placek said. “It’s not just a creative exercise. It’s a strategic one.”

Building a brand identity - otherwise known as branding, is one a company’s most valuable capabilities, so it’s important to get it right. Brand association, whether good or bad, can have a profound effect on consumer’s perceptions of a product, affect sales, and in some cases even change the category. So before settling on a name, it’s best to go out and do some research, talk to employees and customers to create a brand association map and then debate long and thoroughly about which name to choose. Because branding, once done, isn’t easy to undo and it’s best to get it done right the first time around.

Alyce Brierley

Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

Friday, 25 August 2017

Sifting Through The Noise

Do you wake up each morning at the same time? Eat the same food for breakfast? Chances are most of you follow some form of routine. And what is a routine but a series of patterns. Some of which are useful and efficient, while others form bad habits.

Our brains our geared to make and identify patterns. From the moment we are born, we learn to recognise simple patterns such as crying leads to being fed. As children, we learn that good behaviour earns rewards. By the time we are adults, we have learned to rely on these complex patterns to help us do everything from the simplest actions like choosing what to wear in the morning, to making complex decisions about what kind of health insurance is the best policy.

This semester in Research and Decision-Making we’ve been studying the different mechanisms involved in the decision-making process along with a range of biases that can assist with making effective judgements; however there are many challenges and pitfalls to be aware of.

Having too much information.

Otherwise known as information overload. When there is too much information our brains filter out the majority of it using shortcuts. “An overload of information can leave you confused and misguided, and prevents you from following your intuition,” according to Corporate Wellness Magazine.

For simple decisions we use heuristics or ‘rules of thumb’. Heuristics apply practical methods, that aren’t necessarily guaranteed to be perfect, but serve short term goals. They are also a great mental shortcut to ease the cognitive load. These can be educated guesses, intuition and even common sense. For example, if I’m late for class, I drive instead of taking the train. If it’s overcast, I’ll pack an umbrella. These are easy decisions that don’t need much thought.

But for more complex decisions, we simplify the problem by using anchoring and adjustment. Anchoring is when we make a decision relying on specific information or value that is available to us, which acts as a reference point (i.e. an anchor) around which we adjust our response. The anchor can be internally generated (e.g. we come up with our own anchor based on our own knowledge of a product) or can be set externally (e.g. a price tag on a product). 

Take for instance, determining the value of something using an internal anchor vs seeing the price marked on the ticket (external anchor). Most of the time we use anchors unconsciously, whereby we do not realise how the anchor is impacting our decision. Sometimes, however, like in the case of bargaining or price fixing in retail, they can be used to influence other’s decisions. 

Anchoring and adjustment while shopping.

We have already explored in class how internal versus external anchoring works with low involvement purchases, but how does it work with high involvement purchases?

Have you ever fallen for the ‘buy one and get the second one half price’? I almost did the other day. I was seduced by the window display at a shoe store and couldn’t help but to take a peek inside. I didn’t really need a new pair of shoes let alone a second pair, but into the store I went because the external anchor was quite appealing. 
It was the mid-season sale, so a lot of the shoes were already discounted. Among them was a gorgeous pair of boots marked down from $350 to $199 and a selection of full-priced new season heels. I found a pair for $120 before sitting down to try them on and consider my selection.

Now normally I don’t spend more than $200 on a pair of shoes, so the price was just under my internal anchor. I already had about 30 pairs of shoes, so I didn’t exactly need a new pair. Whether I fell for the trap or not was of my own volition, the transactional value enticed me to walk into store and try on shoes, but in the end the internal anchor was stronger than the external one. 

So what exactly was involved in that judgement process? First of all, we use selective accessibility to compare decision target value with external anchor value. Was I willing to pay $259 for two pairs of shoes that I didn’t really need? The external anchor activated the knowledge that if the shoes were full-priced, I would have had to pay $470, which would give me a saving of $211! Now that’s value!

But wait, the last time I bought a pair of boots, they were only $80 and I could still get a lot of wear out of them. This internal anchor forces me to question my judgement and exert self-control by forcing me to ask myself, "How much money do you usually spend on a pair of boots? How many pairs of high heels do you already have?‘’ 

Now things are significantly more complicated, especially because the external anchor-based promotion’s influence on purchase quantity. So to simplify the decision, I used a confirmation bias to look for more facts and justify my opinion. ‘’The boots are good quality and they will last me a few seasons and I saw a similar pair of these high heels in Vogue.’’ 

Confirmation bias is when we interpret new evidence as confirmation of our existing beliefs or theories. So after a quick Google search I found that the shoes were much higher priced at other retail outlets, confirming my opinion that this was a good deal. 

You’re probably wondering if I ended up buying the shoes. Well, the answer is no… Internal anchors are strong enough to override external anchors, so my ability to use reason saved me from buying something that I didn’t really need. In retail contexts with higher involvement purchases, there really needs to be an integrated marketing approach. Would my decision have been different if there had been displays showing me how to wear the shoes?

Sometimes there just isn't enough information.

When there isn’t enough information or if you are only referring to one source, often biases are relied upon to help fill in the gaps with best guesses and assumptions. The problem with this is that this can lead to misinformed decisions, so it’s important to be aware of these biases to avoid disaster.

Biases lose their strength when there is real information so a simple way to counter them is to try to have a look at the whole picture. There are a number of judgement processes linked to biases. Generally speaking, biases look at information that is consistent with beliefs.

Confirmation bias is when you seek facts or new evidence that support your existing opinions. When people would like a certain idea/concept to be true, they end up believing it to be true. Once we have formed a view, we embrace information that confirms that view while ignoring, or rejecting, information that casts doubt on it. In a way this is a form of prejudice that inhibits our ability to perceive something objectively.

Whereas with selective perception, our brains may already have preconceived ideas and beliefs. In this case we perceive only what we want to and ignore other perceptions or viewpoints if they don’t match our own. 

In the marketing context, we can consider how consumers are bombarded with messages from brands on a daily basis, so they sift through the noise by blocking or modifying messages that conflict with their own values and attitudes.

Finally there’s cognitive dissonance, which is essentially a form of rationalisation. We are motivated to change perceptions to rationalise truths and limit the psychological stress that results from holding conflicting ideas or values simultaneously. Just in case you missed it, here’s the Cognitive Dissonance song again.

While there are many more biases to be explored within the judgment making process, the ones outline today should give you a better idea on how to process information. By being aware of the hidden or underlying forces that shape our decisions as business leaders, consumers and in everyday life we are able to avoid psychological biases to make better informed decisions.

Alyce Brierley
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School.