Content Strategy

There's No Digital Special Sauce

...and please stop listening to ANYONE who says there is.

Whenever we start working with a new client, there is a period of discovery in which we need to dispel the myth of quick fix, digital special sauce.

It doesn't exist.  It's like when VC's talk about building a business so it will be a "cash generator." It's like, dude, if there was a plan to building a "cash generator," don't you think more folks would have used it by now? 

At the mercy of con artist "digital" salesmen, most of our clients have at one point or another sunk epic budgets into chasing this alleged special sauce.  It's been called many things over the past few years: Search Engine Optimization, Keywords, SEM, Social Media, Viral Videos, etc.  But make no mistake, they're all peddling the same thing in different disguises -- Digital Special Sauce.  They are preying on desperation and not addressing core business problems. They offer deep specialties that may result in a quick fix, but leave clients helpless once the agency engagement is complete.

Please note that lots of these digital tactics can be very effective if used properly.  KIMBA builds them into content strategies and execution plans where they fit.  But, they are part of a larger picture, not standalone answers.

Buzzwords and buzzservices render buzzresults (a common synonym for buzz is "fizzle"). Buzzresults blow away with the next strong breeze of innovation.  

We want to empower our potential current client partners to separate the ice cream from the bullshit when it comes to Digital operations and Digital solutions.  That empowerment is the very backbone of our in-house Content Studio framework and approach.  If we can empower you to discern between lasting, longterm investments in your business's health, and quick fix bandaids that will sooner or later need to be ripped off, we can eliminate a lot of the noise and clutter that's pervaded our industry since the early 2000's.  We can get you that much closer to addressing root problems that have been causing Digital symptoms all along.  We can hit your KPI's and then some.

Strategy Skimpin'

OMG WTF! How exciting is the INTERNET!? 

My loves, sometimes I feel like companies should just be thanking the internet all damn day for giving them such rich opportunities to better know themselves, and to better understand their consumers. Like, they should just be tweeting @ and hashtagging the shizz out of mother INTERNET, all damn day.  

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But wait a sec, my friends, the INTERNET can be pretty scarrrry, too.  There's just so much going on inside of it!  Sometimes I even feel this impending doom, like there's a 7,000 man-strong prodigy hacker army determined to undermine or overthrow all societal stability.  Sometimes I want to download the secret prodigy hacker army password from a bit torrent site.  Other times I fantasize about moving to Walden Pond where I can live thing-less like HD Thoreau.  

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Sometimes this same scare factor propels companies to do stuff on the INTERNET very quickly.  Reactions instead of responses.  In this rush, strategy is always the first step to get cut.  Strategy doesn't return quickly enough to meet quarterly sales report deadlines.  Strategy skimpin'.  The irony is that strategy is now more integral than ever before.

We think a lot of organizations are strategy skimpers because strategy can't be seen like a picture, video, P&L doc, or product packaging can.  Strategy is a thought process and rationale system that underlies and works through all the things we can see.  It's the insight-driven creative backbone that weds human behaviors to existing and emerging products.

We see the result of strategy skimping everywhere we turn.  Aside from spawning insanely dull microsites and banner campaigns, for our agency brethren, it's made life increasingly difficult.  The more complicated technology becomes, the more competitive markets get, the more strategy is needed to produce successful work.  Meanwhile, back at the ranch, clients' INTERNET-stuffs marketing/advertising budgets get smaller and smaller.  OMG WTF, you say?

Read on, for good news...

The silver lining is very real.  Smart people everywhere are pissed off.  They know how to use technology and they don't want to be advertised at anymore.  On message boards, comment chains, social media channels, and in plain conversation, they've been debunking the many lies which permeate our marketplace.  They've done their homework to be certain they're no longer susceptible to traditional methods brands have been relying on for decades.  Through ratings and reviews, they're making sure truths surface. 

So, the chief disconnect.  How do we help speed brands along to catch them up with the collective consumer conscience, behavior trends, and expectation set?  How do we help them meet the desires of consumers who wish to be engaged, valued, and treated humanly?

Well, my dearies, there's been a North American and European renaissance in brand strategy and interactive marketing.  An uprising, I say.  All over, we're seeing likeminded thinkers emerge in clusters with a determination to bring creative excellence and strategic thinking to brands.  In fact, there are so many of these little shops popping up that we had to name ours after Mike's first dog KIMBA because names like Prophet and Audacity were already taken!  

We believe it's actually socially irresponsible, and just plain OFF TOPIC to launch a program, campaign, or product without a thorough strategy.  The people can smell its absence from a text ad away! 

Brands must be smarter and more deliberate when it comes to positioning themselves, offering value, and turning an empowered shopper into a lifelong customer.  

This state of affairs excites us.  We relish its multiple challenges and the fierce competition and opportunity it inspires.  We like to partner with folks who are up for the challenge and who know they need to start thinking like strategists or expect significant loss of market share.  Who's down to defy impending doom? #KIMBA

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Thanks, America Online!

Don't get too excited because this isn't a snarky piece of commentary on the many brand and organizational makeovers AOL has undergone over the past 18 years.  That's been covered.  I just want to throw a quick nostalgic shout to the 56.6 kbps magic that started it all -- this Social Media business of ours.  

Do you remember when AOL OWNED the internet and chat room romance (A/S/L)?  I do!

I remember the world seeming to expand each time I heard that nasty fax dial-up sound clip the mini speakers of my family's Compaq Presario desktop computer. I remember the rush I felt when entering a chat room as the 23rd and final member.   I remember scanning endless lists of public chat room titles and then making up names of private chatrooms where I could huddle with a select few individuals.  Strangers, most of the time!  17/M/CT's!!  I remember this: y0 DuDe, waSsuPperZ?

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Particularly special to me was America Online's gift of new music discovery through social connection.  I was one of those punks that used every text field of my profile to list bands.  My digital identity needed to scream "I care only about music."  Using the profile "search" function, I would enter two diverse artists, click return, and then scour the results of other members' profiles who shared similar taste.  I would scan their lists, and from them,  discover some of my favorite bands to this day -- At The Drive-In & Sunny Day Real Estate to name a few.  It was the OG recommendation engine.

There was magic in that proactive hunt for personalized experiences.  It was charged by a hunger for connection, discovery, and identification.

Recommendations, personalization, and customization are now part of every smart digital product.   The smarter the product, the more human it feels and behaves.  The industry, and the creativity flowing through it, seem to precede a 100% consumer run ecosystem in which useful digital products and people connecting to them will reign supreme.  

As a buzz term, SMO came and went.  However, there was something fundamentally compelling in its system.  Obvious, but still compelling.  Content should be ranked based on its relevance to collective social and cultural behavior.  That was the key engineering principle of the first iteration of Google's search engine -- interlinking pages.  

Soon, agile teams run by big thinkers will create such a breadth of delicious digital utility (all-screen compatible), that all the paid media in the world won't be able to grab true "share of voice."  Banners, text ads, and purchased YouTube spends will never win!  They will bow to a democratic evening out process in which functional and innovative services dominate every vertical.  

However, we know that companies will be busy for years to come investing in Content Ad buys (that's the new thing now -- just putting your shit on someone else's shit), MORE SEO, and banners.  All strains of the same trickery and deception.

In this gradual, sometimes painfully tedious, yet always surprising revolution, Mike and I knew we had to form our own agile team to service brands in a meaningful way.  We had to fight the right fight.

As nothing is the same about the way consumers consume and nothing is the same about the places and points at which they do their consuming, then doesn't it follow that nothing can be the same about how we (as brands and agency partners) service these audiences across said channels and platforms?   That's what KIMBA is about.  Come join us on the road to true value for consumers.  L8!