Right when my wife and I were about to head off to Paris (perhaps the start of every good story?), the savvy folks at Airbnb delivered the summer edition of their beautiful magazine, which they co-produce with Hearst. Having read the Fall 2018 issue cover to cover and being struck by the irony of a “digital” brand reverting to “traditional” print, I was only slightly disappointed to not find any last-minute tips about France. Instead, I reveled in all the potential adventures that awaited after this trip, and more importantly, was reminded of the need for renegade thinking in media planning.
When it comes to media today, the natural inclination is to focus on digital given its indisputable targeting and tracking capabilities. And no doubt, many brands are using it to great effect. But the renegade in me can’t help but notice the competitive advantage B2B brands who invest in alternative channels are gaining, namely outdoor for Zoom and Brex and events for Adobe. Recent episodes of the Renegade Thinkers Unite podcast explored these topics.
Zoom: Many Happy Returns With Outdoor
Janine Pelosi, CMO of Zoom, the fast-growing video conferencing service, considers outdoor its more important channel for driving new customers to its website. “There’s so much noise in digital. We know our spending is going to be lower than most folks in our space and B2B in general, so we’ve made billboards a big part of what we do, with different approaches in each market,” explains Pelosi. With Zoom’s “Meet Happy” promise on London taxis, BART trains and NYC subways, Pelosi is also making Zoom investors happy. (Click here to hear full interview.)
Brex: Charging Up the B2B Credit Card Market
For obvious reasons, Sam Blond, Chief Sales Officer of Brex, a credit card issuer for entrepreneurs, is thrilled to share that the company was recently valued at $1 billion. Brex got there by identifying an unmet need among founders for revolving credit, and then betting big on outdoor, such as shelter ads, billboards and premier panels in the Bay Area. Using sophisticated attribution tracking, Brex believes that outdoor drove upwards of one in four new accounts. (Click here to hear full interview.)
Adobe: An Event Skeptic Becomes a Believer
When Ann Lewnes took the reins as CMO at Adobe, she was shocked by how much the company was investing in events. As a huge proponent of digital, she initially challenged this allocation, but “over time, it became so clear to me that events are the way people really still communicate.” Lewnes notes with pride that Adobe events have grown by 20% year over year and that the recent Adobe Summit hosted 17,000 brand fans. (Click here to hear full interview.)
Alternatives or Supplements to Digital?
In all three of the above examples, it’s important to note that digital still plays critical roles in the marketing mix. For both Zoom and Brex, outdoor dramatically increased awareness and brand interest, which set up digital channels, including search, website and retargeting. For Adobe, events are the means of generating brand love and creating the opportunity for upselling, cross-selling and referrals, all of which are facilitated by email, social and content. The bottom line: don’t be afraid to step outside the digital sandbox, even when the “only-do-what-you-can-measure” police challenge your plans.
Final note: If you have other examples of renegade media approaches, do let me know.